World-Renowned Bowler Visits Remember Ricky Tournament

PBA bowler Jason Belmonte stands with Rick Burgstrom and Brenda Burgstrom on Sunday night.

World-renowned bowler Jason Belmonte stopped by Lucky Lanes on Sunday evening for the same reason so many others in the community did — to remember Ricky Burgstrom.

The inaugural Remember Ricky bowling tournament was held Sunday at Lucky Lanes to honor the memory of Burgstrom, who died at the age of 22 in an automobile accident in November 2021. Ricky’s father, Rick, estimated more than 200 people were in attendance.

“It really was fantastic,” Rick Burgstrom said. “We couldn’t believe how many people came out to remember Ricky.”

Rick Burgstrom said that Lucky Lanes was “maxed out” on Sunday night, as people of all ages — from newborn babies to seniors in their 80s and 90s — came to memorialize Ricky Burgstrom.

But one special guest traveled further than the rest.

Members of Ricky Burgstom’s close friends, Jason Belmonte and his parents, at right, surround a case that includes a custom bowling ball that is in Lucky Lanes. Photos by Joey Conti

Over the weekend, Belmonte, of Australia, competed in the PBA Tournament of Champions in Fairlawn, Ohio — just outside of Akron. Belmonte claimed his record-setting fourth Tournament of Champions title before taking the trip to Chautauqua County to honor Ricky.

The Remember Ricky tournament was founded as a way to not only honor Ricky’s memory, but also the friendships he made throughout his life. Ricky’s parents were inspired to create the tournament because of the efforts of Ricky’s 10 close friends, Chris Buchanan, Drew Coniglio, Zack Crandall, Jack Gaken, Vince Gullo, Troy Lemiszko, Ryan Sheldon, Cam Voss, Luke Voss, and Azeem Zaidi, to secure a custom bowling ball he was seeking shortly before his death. The group of friends contacted Belmonte, a legend in the sport Ricky loved since his childhood, to sign the ball.

But Belmonte — a seven-time PBA Player of the Year – did more than just sign the ball. He was in attendance Sunday night, despite his commitment at the Tournament of Champions. After winning his record fourth championship, followed by a lengthy media session, Belmonte hopped in a car and traveled straight to Lucky Lanes.

“His family is all back in Australia, so he won this big tournament and couldn’t celebrate with anyone. He said it was great to have so many people to be with that evening,” Rick Burgstrom said.

Lucky Lanes owner Paul Nocek and Youth Bowling Coordinator Greg Haase brought Belmonte through the back of the alley as a surprise to the guests in attendance.

“It was a great scene,” Rick Burgstrom said.

Belmonte developed a friendship with Ricky through social media because of their love for bowling and shoes – and Belmonte even wore a pair of shoes Ricky secured as he bowled at Lucky Lanes in his memory. Belmonte witnessed as the ball and other memorabilia, including a signed pin by Belmonte and a pin from the Junior Gold Championships Ricky competed in, were placed in a display case at Lucky Lanes. The case is located next to an area dedicated for the kids bowling program, which Ricky was a part of in his youth.

“It’s nice, because some of the kids said they can come back to it and remember him,” Rick Burgstrom said.

After the pain so many felt after the loss of Ricky, Sunday night was a celebration of his life and the impact he had on bringing people together in a positive way.

“It was just a pleasant evening. The conversations were great. … It was just so friendly,” Rick Burgstrom said. “Jason (Belmonte) said I just met these people and I feel like I know them all. … The impact Ricky had on so many people … it’s really nice.”


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