Love him or hate him, and it seems there is no in-between when it comes to Belmonte, his collection of 17 PBA Tour titles, including nine majors, is all the rebuttal that’s necessary concerning his style and ability.
The 34-year-old was at the Oncenter Convention Center in Syracuse, New York, this week as the defending champion at the United States Bowling Congress Masters, an event he has won a record four times since 2013. He’ll next head to Portland, Maine, for two additional PBA Tour events.
Regardless of how things go on the lanes at those three events, the days after the PBA Xtra Frame Port Property Management Maine Shootout and OceanView at Falmouth PBA League will be a guaranteed win for Belmonte.
Belmonte has scheduled a special trip to South Florida, where he’ll spend the day with the Carbocci family, a bowling-passionate group that has rallied the South Florida bowling community in support of the families of the victims of the Feb. 14 mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.
Hannah Carbocci, a 17-year-old member of the Douglas High School girls bowling team, was inside the school during the shootings. While Hannah was not injured, two students inside the classroom with her were among the 17 killed by the teen gunman.
Hannah and her sister, Kaitlin, engaged in a 77-message text thread during the incident, and the exchange later was spotlighted by CNN.
In the weeks since, the fundraising efforts have included bowling ball raffles, T-shirt sales and a bowling tournament, raising more than $30,000.
The story of their efforts reached Belmonte in Australia, and he decided to give the family a call.
From that call, Belmonte was further inspired to recognize the Carboccis for their dedication and efforts in person and asked if they’d be free for a day of bowling and socializing. He’d also made arrangements for the family to have news balls and bags.
“I think one of the things that sometimes goes unnoticed is that when people raise money or they do really good deeds for their community, they get credit, which is wonderful, but sometimes, it’s really nice to recognize them with something extra special,” Belmonte said. “I decided to send the family bowling balls and bags for their personal use, and PBA champion Andres Gomez (right), who lives in the area, has agreed to drill them at no charge. When I get there, we’ll have a nice afternoon together knocking some pins down.”
The festivities will include Hannah and Kaitlin, their younger brother Lorenzo and their father Brady. Their mother, Stacy, also will be in attendance, but she will not be bowling.
According to Gomez, who was excited to help from the moment he got the call from Belmonte, he intends to do all he can to make sure the family has a memorable time, and the get-together will be followed by an even bigger celebration for the whole bowling community.
“For me, this is great because I am there every day, and I know how hard the family has worked to raise awareness and money in the local community,” Gomez said. “And for Jason to give his time and show his support in person means a lot, and I’m glad to be able to be a part of it. This was a terrible tragedy, and a very sad time, but it’s nice that everyone has come together and something good has been able to come out of it.”
Competing and traveling do keep Belmonte very busy, but when he’s home in Orange, New South Wales, he’s eager to contribute to the sport any way he can, which includes appearances, coaching and even writing blogs and articles.
And, while he intends to continue competing until he physically can’t anymore, in the slim chance he ever decides to cut back on his tournament schedule, Belmonte is committed to the future and growth of the sport.
“If I do ever retire from competing, I would love to be able to fly the flag for bowling on a more regular basis and do more things like I’m going to be doing in Florida,” Belmonte said. “Straight up, I just love bowling, and I want bowling to be healthier and better. I think the bowling community as a whole is a beautiful community. I think when bowlers need each other, we step up. I really hope this gives them some good news for the week and inspires other pros to do stuff as well.”
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