STURGIS, Mich. – The Zonas and VanDams are family. They became close through a shared experience, and that bond has strengthened through the years.
Both families had sets of twins born premature at 25 weeks, and each went through the trying experience of living at the NICU (neonatal intensive care unit) coping with their boys’ struggle to survive. Today the families spend as much time together as they can.
“I know this is going to sound crazy – he’s been like an older brother,” Mark Zona said. “He’s given me life advice, he’s given me business advice, and I owe him for just being an older brother.”
Mark and Kevin will get together Thursday for the second edition of Zona Live, a webcast from 8 a.m. to noon ET on Bassmaster.com.
“Before he went primetime,” Zona said in his best TV analyst voice, “we would fish a lot. He had more time to fish, and I hate to say it, I took it for granted. He has made the comment to me, ‘Doing your show is an excuse for you and I to go fishing.’”
A “Sneaky Lake” in southwestern Michigan not far from their homes was selected for the outing, which is being sponsored by Humminbird. Viewers can use #ZonaLive to join the conversation and submit questions. There will be several incredible giveaways to social media participants.
Zona said he first met KVD at a Tuesday night tournament at Barton Lake, not far from where they’ll fish Thursday. Zona was around 17 and VanDam was 22 or so and just starting his legendary B.A.S.S. career. Their paths would often cross at VanDam’s brother’s tackle shop, D&R Sportscenter, and at fishing shows.