Greg Vinson spent his 34th birthday alone in Louisiana, practicing on Toledo Bend Reservoir for the TroKar Battle on the Bayou. A few days later, when he made his first Top 12 cut of the season, his family, friends and sponsor THY Enterprises decided he was not going to celebrate alone again.
His wife, Stephanie, at home in Wetumpka, Ala., and Dave and Theresa H. Young, owners of technical apparel maker THY Enterprises of Alexander City, organized a private plane trip to Many, La.
A pilot friend, Gene Gwaltney, volunteered to fly his plane from Alexander City to Many, La., for the cost of fuel. On board were Stephanie Vinson, her mother and the Youngs. After landing in Many, they were picked up by a volunteer driver from the local host, the Sabine Parish Tourist Commission. The group arrived at the weigh-in site in time for the Top 12's on-stage appearance.
Vinson said no one spilled the beans to him as he waited in his boat, cued up third in the line of trailered rigs leading to the weigh-in stage. His cheering section was in the front of the audience, ready to surprise him.
"There was such a huge crowd, I couldn't see them from my place in line," Vinson said later. "Then, as I was pulled up to the stage, right before I reached to take my fish out of the livewell, I spotted the NQ logo. It's so new; I thought it was unusual to see it there. Then I saw who was wearing the logo."
The logo has a distinctive black background with "NQ" and "THY" lettering. "NQ" stands for the company's slogan, "Apparel that Never Quits." It's a phrase developed to reflect Teresa's H. Young's fight against breast cancer, and to apply to the military, Vinson explained, adding that he feels it applies to him, too.
"I can relate to that slogan, given my financial situation a few years ago and almost not being able to continue to fish," Vinson said. "But I hung in there, and things now are going well, and I made a Top 12. Having my friends, family and sponsors there to see that was a great birthday present."
Vinson finished in 11th place, a lift to his season. He's had two other Top 50 cuts this year, but a final-day cut had eluded him.