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Holland Strong Ice Fishing Derby honors El Faro crewman


Hundreds gathered at Round Pond in Livermore Saturday for the second annual "HollandStrong" Ice Fishing Derby to raise money for a scholarship in honor of a crewmember of a cargo ship that sank in October of 2015.

The derby is named after Michael Holland, one of the 33 crewmembers who died on board El Faro, a ship that got caught in Hurricane Joaquin.

Holland's mother, Deb Roberts, organized the derby last February to raise money for the HollandStrong Memorial Scholarship.

"It is easier. It's not as raw and fresh," said Roberts. "It feels more like a celebration of Mike this year than the pain. I mean obviously I miss him, but it does feel a little more like a celebration of him."

Chase Heikkinen was one of four students to receive the first scholarship last year, and attended the derby this year.

"Anything could happen to anyone at any time so you just have to hold your family close and tight," said Heikkinen.

Dozens of local businesses donated raffle prizes to the derby. The entrance fee of $5 per person and sales of HollandStrong merchandise went to the scholarship fund.

"To know that people want to support the scholarship and come out and fish even though they may not have known Mike, it just continues the connection and just grows his legacy and makes sure he's never forgotten," said Roberts. "It's about all of us collectively doing something that Michael loved. Michael was happy if he was on the water."

More than 380 people attended the derby. Roberts said she still needed to count the donations and proceeds to get a final total.