Keys Captain Gary Ellis surprised by tributes from IGFA and Congressman Joe Garcia
Islamadora, In the Florida, Keys, In late March, as he does each year to raise awareness and funds for a cure for cystic fibrosis, Capt. Gary Ellis led a large contingent of supporters in the annual Redbone Island Walk. What he didn’t expect was to be surprised by one of the walkers, U.S. Congressman Joe Garcia of Florida, honoring him with a proclamation from the House of Representatives in Washington D.C. for his near three decades of charity work.
One month earlier Ellis, the founder of the Redbone, was recognized in a banquet at the International Game Fish Association Hall of Fame n Dania Beach, Fla., honoring him and four other captains from the U.S., Australia and Puerto Rico.
The IGFA’s Fourth Annual Legendary Captain & Crews Awards Ceremony inducted Ellis as one of the extraordinary seafarers who has made a mark across the globe through their contributions to sport fishing by invention, outstanding catch or catches, or having set an outstanding example of their recreational angling trade.
Tommy Gifford Award
The award was named for one of the greatest saltwater charter skippers of all time.
Garcia’s surprise proclamation which appeared in the Congressional Record, noted the IGFa’S TRIBUTE TO Ellis, plus his dedicated efforts helping the Redbone Celebrity Tournament Series of competitions raise millions for cycstic fibrosis research over its 27 years.
Ellis was presented with an impressive plaque of what Garcia stated on the House floor
The Redbone began four years after the birth of Ellis’s daughter Nicole. The lives of Ellis, a Keys backcountry guide, and his wie Susan, took a dramatic turn when learning Nicole was suffering from cystic fibrosis, a genetic disease that affects the lungs and other organs. They were told with some care and extensive medicines she might live to her early teens years.
Not ones to sit on the sidelines
The Ellis’s wanted to do something, anything to help speed medical research by participating in numerous South Florida CF fundraisers. Gary was encouraged by hisfishing clients, baseball and IGFA hall of fame legend Ted Williams to build a CF charity event around what he knew best-fishing. In 1988 the Ellis’s began the Redbone (REDfish and BONEfish), a small local backcountry, celebrity-filled tournament in Islamadora. In their first effort they raised $16,000 for CF. With faith, and encouragement from guides, celebrities, participants and sponsors, those watery Flrida Keys roots took strong hold and the Redbone grew with more events, momentum and international fame through media exposure while raising CF awareness and research efforts.
Now, 27 years and $19 million dollars later
The Redbone has made a world of difference, helping medical scientist extend the lives of over 30,000 CF patient across the United States, like Nicole. Since 2003, Ellis and the Redbone have presented $1 million-plus checks to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, as scientists clos in on a cure for a majority of the CF patients.
Today, Nicole is a beautiful 29-year-old international marketing executive for Rich Products, waiting for a medical discovery for CF to be made.
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