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HollandStrong Ice Fishing Derby carries legacy of Maine mariner who died when the El Faro sank

Michael Holland was one of 33 crew members who died when the cargo ship El Faro sank in 2015 in a hurricane. The derby raises money for a memorial scholarship.

LIVERMORE, Maine — A memorial ice fishing derby to honor a mariner from Maine who died at sea is scheduled to take place Saturday, despite the mild winter that has affected ice depths statewide.

The 8th annual HollandStrong Ice Fishing Derby takes place Saturday on Wilson Pond in Wilton. 

The derby raises money for the HollandStrong scholarship, which is named in honor of Michael Holland of Jay. Holland was one of 33 crew members who died when the cargo ship El Faro sank in 2015 in a hurricane

The scholarship is annually awarded to graduating seniors from one of three HollandStrong community high schools: Mt. Blue High School in Farmington; Spruce Mountain High School in Jay; and Leavitt Area High School in Turner. 

Six students received the scholarship last June, according to Holland's mother, Deb Roberts.

"I just feel like my family expands each year, and our connection is Michael, which in many ways solidifies that he'll never be forgotten," Roberts said.

Holland's childhood friends routinely attend each year, and executives from the company that owned the cargo ship, TOTE Maritime, annually donates prizes.

Roberts said her hope is to keep her son's memory alive, no matter how many years have passed.

"You just learn how to process grief over time. You gain experience, but it certainly never goes away. It's always there. There's not a day that I don't think about Mike. I'm just not sad every day when I think about Mike," she said.

The derby starts at 5 a.m. Participants can register that morning or online at www.hollandstrong.org

There are a variety of prizes, with expanded categories for kids to get on the leaderboard, depending on which type of fish they catch.

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