65 Roses Story

The "65 Roses" story dates back to 1965 when an observant 4-year-old, Richard "Ricky" Weiss, 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

4 min read
  • In 1965, after hearing his mother make phone calls to raise money for cystic fibrosis research, 4-year-old Ricky Weiss told his mother she was working for "65 roses."
  • Today, there are many treatments for the symptoms of cystic fibrosis, but we are still working to find a cure.
  • Join the 65 Roses Club, a dedicated group of CF Foundation donors determined to help us find a cure for CF.

The 65 Roses Story

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 the mission. 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 each day.

The Weiss brothers: Richard, 5; Arthur, 7; and Anthony, 16 months.

The horrible fact is that cystic fibrosis is a life-threatening genetic disease that affects more than 40,000 children and adults in the United States.

Sadly, Richard lost his fight against CF in 2014, and Mary passed away in 2016. Mary generously provided a gift in her will to the CF Foundation in memory and honor of her children. Their legacy lives on as we work to find a cure for all people with cystic fibrosis.

The “65 Roses” story has captured the hearts and emotions of all who have heard it. The rose, appropriately the ancient symbol of love, has become a symbol of the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.

More than 65 years later, we celebrate the legacy of the Weiss family and the 65 Roses story on June 5 (6/5) with 65 Roses Day.

65 Roses Day

You're invited to join the 65 Roses® Club, a dedicated group of CF Foundation donors determined to help us find a cure for CF by providing a steady, reliable stream of support that enables the Foundation to fund highly innovative research and drug development, and provide high-quality, specialized care for people with CF. 

Help accelerate progress and join today

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

By joining the 65 Roses Club, I authorize the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation to charge my credit card or transfer my monthly pledge amount from my bank each month and it shall remain in effect until I notify the CF Foundation at 1-866-347-2345 or 65rosesclub@cff.org that I wish to end this agreement and they have had reasonable time to act on it. A record of each payment will be included in my monthly credit card or bank statement and will serve as my monthly receipt. A previous year giving receipt will be sent in February for tax purposes.  
If you are an existing 65 Roses Club member, you can contact the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation at 1-866-347-2345 or 65rosesclub@cff.orgif you wish to modify or end your monthly pledge agreement. 

Share this article
About the CF Foundation
You Might Also Be Interested
Have questions? We’re here to help. Call us at 1-800-FIGHT CF

Mon - Thu, 9 am - 5 pm ET
Fri, 9 am - 3 pm ET


More Ways To Get Help