Local Chefs Gather to Support Cystic Fibrosis Research

The name “65 Roses” has little to do with romantic bouquets – rather, it refers to the way a small child would mispronounce “cystic fibrosis,” saying something that sounds like “65 roses” instead.

Some children with the disease continue to refer to their condition as “65 roses,” which is easier to say than the name of the illness itself. It’s such beautiful imagery for such a difficult condition. 

But the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation is trying to make it better. The Fort Worth Chapter’s 65 Roses event held each October raises money to help fight the disease, and perhaps one day, help eliminate cystic fibrosis altogether.

“The reason why we do events like 65 Roses is because we’re trying to find a cure,” said Cara Armstrong, senior development director of the Fort Worth chapter of the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. “Just to know that we’ve come so far when we had people that weren’t living to be past age 5, and now that average life expectancy of a [cystic fibrosis] patient is 41, every single part of that is from donor support.”

65 Roses started relatively small, the first event taking place 17 years ago in the backyard of the foundation’s board president. Participants raised about $42,000 that year. Fast forward 17 years into the future, and the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation has raised a total of more than $4.5 million through 65 Roses.

Cystic fibrosis, a genetic disease that affects the lungs and makes breathing difficult, affects about 30,000 people nationwide. According to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, more than half of those with the disease are 18 years old and older, with the median survival age being 40. Thanks in part to funding raised through 65 Roses, Armstrong said, medicine has made advances in recent years with the Food and Drug Administration approving two drugs that help alleviate cystic fibrosis symptoms.

“Just to be a part of something that’s so much bigger than me is incredible,” Armstrong said.

The 65 Roses event in Fort Worth, led by the foundation and chef Michael Thompson of Michaels Cuisine on West Seventh Street, rounds up local chefs to cook samples of their signature dishes. This year’s event featured chefs from The Capital Grille, Eddie V’s, Ellerbe Foods and others. In addition to dabbling in various types of cuisine, attendees also enjoyed live music, as well as a silent and live auction.

“It’s just a night of food sampling and having fun,” Armstrong said.

The money raised goes toward Cook Children’s Cystic Fibrosis Center, funding research, equipment, patient assistance and other programs – Fort Worth’s local contribution to a worldwide cause.

“It’s just been a Fort Worth tradition,” Armstrong said.