65 Roses Story

The “65 Roses” story dates back to 1965 when an observant 4-year-old, hearing the name of his disease for the first time, pronounced cystic fibrosis as "65 Roses." Today, “65 Roses” is a term often used by young children with cystic fibrosis to pronounce the name of their disease.

3 min read
  • In 1965, after hearing his mother make phone calls to fundraise for cystic fibrosis research, 4-year-old Ricky Weiss told his mother she was working for "65 roses."
  • More than 65 years later, we celebrate the legacy of the Weiss family and the 65 Roses story.
The Weiss brothers: Richard, 5; Arthur, 7; and Anthony, 16 months.

Mary G. Weiss became a volunteer for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation in 1965 after learning that her three little boys had CF. Her duty was to call every civic club, social, and service organization, seeking financial support for CF research. Mary's 4-year-old son, Richard (Ricky), listened closely to his mother as she made each call.

After several calls, Richard came into the room and told his mom, "I know what you are working for." Mary was dumbstruck because Richard did not know what she was doing, nor did he know that he had cystic fibrosis.

With some trepidation, Mary asked, "What am I working for, Ricky?"

He answered, "You are working for 65 Roses."

Mary was speechless. He could not see the tears running down Mary's cheeks as she stammered, "Yes, Ricky, I'm working for 65 Roses."

Since 1965, the term "65 Roses" has been used by children of all ages to describe their disease. But, making it easier to say does not make CF any easier to live with.

The reality is that cystic fibrosis is a life-threatening genetic disease that affects 30,000 children and adults in the United States.

Sadly, Richard lost his fight against CF in 2014. Richard is survived by his devoted wife, Lisa, his adored dog, Keppie, and his brother, Anthony.

The "65 Roses" story has captured the hearts and emotions of all who have heard it. And the rose, a symbol of love, has come to represent the CF community.

More than 65 years later, we celebrate the legacy of the Weiss family and the 65 Roses story on June 5 with 65 Roses Day.


65 Roses® is a registered trademark of the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.

Share this article
About the CF Foundation
Was this information helpful?
Have questions? We’re here to help. Call us at 1-800-FIGHT CF

Mon - Thu, 9 am - 7 pm ET
Fri, 9 am - 3 pm ET


More Ways To Get Help