As medical scientists move closer to catching the cure for cystic fibrosis, anglers in the Florida Keys are lending their efforts by catching and releasing fish in Redbone tournaments to fund the gene research which will soon change thousands of CF patients lives.
“We had no idea 25 years ago when we started these tournaments just how many remarkable strides would be made increasing the life expectancy of young CF sufferers,” said Capt. Gary Ellis, “especially now with the most promising ones through gene research.”
He and his wife Susan are preparing for the 23rd annual Robert James Sales S.L.A.M. Celebrity Tournament in Key West, Sept. 7-9. It kicks off the annual Keys trilogy made up of the 22nd Baybone in Key Largo, Oct. 5 – 7, and the 25th annual Redbone, Nov. 2 – 4 in Islamorada, which started the celebrated series and the genesis of 26 other tournaments across America.
S.L.A.M. (Southernmost Light Tackle Anglers Master) celebrities include MLB Hall of Famer Wade Boggs, NASA astronaut Bruce Melnick, former Denver Bronco Mark Cooper, former jai alai star Joey Cornblit and Kevin Dineen, head coach of the NHL Florida Panthers. They’ll be pursuing permit, bonefish and tarpon, a trio of elusive shallow water gamefish, earning points in fly, artificial and bait categories, with artwork awarded to the top anglers, teams and guides.
The DoubleTree Grand Key Resort is the host hotel with registration, a reception and live and silent auctions on Friday. It’s also the setting for the Sunday awards banquet at 7 p.m.
Preceding the S.L.A.M. is the Superfly, a one-day, one-fly competition for the same trio of fish sponsored by The Angling Company in Key West. The Thursday, Sept. 6, registration is set for 6 p.m., at the Hurricane Hole Restaurant & Marina, at mile marker 4.5 Oceanside. The fly fishing tournament is slated for Friday, with an awards ceremony beginning at 5 p.m.
The Hurricane Hole is also the site for the 3 – 5 p.m. dockside parties after the S.L.A.M. fishing on Saturday from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. and Sunday from 6:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.
The S.L.A.M.’s entry fee is $3,500 for a two-angler team or $3,000 for an angler to fish with a celebrity and include two days’ charter fees with a professional guide. The entry fee for the Superfly is $350 per angler who also fishes the S.L.A.M. or $500 per angler if not.
The Redbone began in 1988 by the Capt. Gary and Susan Ellis as a grassroots effort to help victims like their daughter, Nicole, who have CF. With help from baseball legend Ted Williams and his celebrity friends to attract anglers, $16,000 was raised that first year.
The Redbone series has since spawned nearly 30 fishing events across the U.S. and internationally raising more than $16 million for scientists and researchers at the CF Foundation.
“Medical scientists are making amazing advancements with gene research,” said Ellis. “Not only did it lead to isolating the CF gene, but it also paved the way for the discovery of the genes for sickle cell anemia, Huntington’s disease and many others. New CF drug research has helped improve lung function and add a little more time for patients. It’s remarkable how far they’ve come, but there’s still no cure and our tournaments continue in full force to help them.”
With Robert James Sales other sponsors in The Redbone Trilogy include Rich Products, Redbone Rods, Double Tree Grand Key Resort, Hurricane Hole, Dove Creek Lodge, DragonFly Boatworks. Reef Safe Suncare, Image Graphics, The Lorelei, The Islander Resort, Snappers and Medical Resources Group.
For more info on this unique Fla. Keys series or the other tournaments in the Redbone family of events call the Redbone office at 305-664-2002 or go online to www.redbone.org
Image courtesy Johnson Communications