AUGUSTA — Corey Vose and Troy Garrison usually fish for cash.

Last weekend, in a boat that, along with the truck that pulls it, is a mobile tribute to the victims of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings, they fished for angels.

Vose, 32, of Augusta, and Garrison, 43, of Topsham, technically fished for bass in the 26 Angels Foundation fishing tournament on Candlewood Lake in Connecticut to benefit the families of the 20 children and six staff members who were slain Dec. 14, 2012, in Newtown, Conn.

They hauled in five bass totaling 14.48 pounds and, unbeknownst to them until later, ended up with their images, and Garrison’s boat and truck, on “Good Morning America” as part of a feature story the network television program did on the event.

Neither of those rewards is why the two part-time professional fishermen went, however, nor is it why Garrison replaced the sponsor logos that previously covered his boat and truck with a tribute to the victims of Sandy Hook, including 26 images of angels, the first name of each victim, and the stark reminder, in large letters, to “Never Forget.”

“I have two young kids, around the same age of the kids who were shot down, so the event itself struck home pretty hard,” Vose said of why he wanted to fish in the tournament, which, unlike other fishing competitions, had no cash pay-out for the top finishers. All the event’s proceeds, including $300 paid by each of the 43 teams to enter, will go to the families of Sandy Hook victims and other people in the community affected by the tragedy.

Vose, chairman of the Augusta Planning Board and category manager for PFG Northcenter in Augusta, and his wife, Katie, a member of the Board of Education, have two children — Caleb, 8, and Abby, 4.

So he didn’t hesitate when fellow fisherman Garrison, a veteran patrolman with the Topsham police who, with his wife, Sylvia, has a 17-year-old son, Branden, KEdwards 5/10/13 cq, asked him to join him on the trip to Connecticut for the 26 Angels bass tournament on May 5.

The pair, in Garrison’s truck and boat customized in a tribute to Sandy Hook, said they got lots of hugs, thank-yous and photos while there, and a similar response on the road. Garrison said an organizer of the event told him some parents and students from Sandy Hook cried when they saw the truck.

“When we got to Connecticut, it was crazy — honks, waves, thumbs up, people taking pictures on the highway; it was great, because that’s what it was all about,” Garrison said. “It’s for them.”

Their five-fish catch was good for 24th place, out of 43 boats.

The two Mainers and the boat and truck were popular at the event, which also included activities and giveaways for Newtown-area families. But Garrison had set out in February to decorate his truck as a tribute to the Sandy Hook victims, even before he knew there was such a tournament or a foundation. He plans to keep the vehicles decorated for the entire season.

“Usually I have sponsors on the truck and boat, blown right up big,” Garrison said, “but I told my wife I wanted to do something for them, the Sandy Hook victims, and for the firefighters and rescue and everybody involved. I just decided to put 26 angels on the truck. I checked with my sponsors and they all liked the idea.

“Then I saw they were just starting this foundation, 26 Angels. So I talked to them and told them I’d like to display their logo, with the names of the victims, on the boat and truck, with male and female angels. With the words ‘never forget.’ And that’s just what it means. Never forget.”

Vose and Garrison plan to return to fish in the event next year.

Keith Edwards — 621-5647

[email protected]


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