Salute to a survivor

On stage last Saturday during the Bassmaster Elite Series event in Decatur, Ala., not far from his home, Tim Horton was so moved he stopped speaking.

Not so much because he’d made the top-12 cut to compete the final day, an accomplishment that meant a 2012 Bassmaster Classic berth was close at hand. And not so much that he’d pulled that off in his home state, not far from where he lives in Muscle Shoals. For all those reasons, he was joyous.

Words left him as he saluted a man in the audience, a survivor of the killer tornado that ripped Alabama on April 27. Larry Plott, Horton’s uncle who had served Franklin County as its sheriff for 28 years, lost his home to the April 27 tornado that flattened the small town of Phil Campbell.

“Only the foundation of his home was left,” Horton described.

“Early on, the focus, of course, was to get the basics back — living quarters, food, clothing,” Horton said. “Then I was talking to my mom last night, and she mentioned he felt he was ready to go fishing again, but didn’t have any tackle.”

Through his mother, Horton knew his uncle would be in the audience on Saturday.

On stage Horton told the story of how one man who gave so much lost so much, but kept going, and kept alive his love of fishing. Then Horton asked his uncle to stand, and the crowd cheered.

After he left the stage, Horton immediately ran back to his boat, collected five of his Duckett Fishing brand rods and reels, and gave them to Plott. Horton said he’d follow up with lures and other equipment.