FREDONIA, N.Y. (WIVB) — Ricky Burgstrom was a rising star in the bowling community, what his friends called a real up-and-comer.

Sadly, a car crash cut his life short in 2021, shocking friends and family.

Burgstrom is now forever being honored at Lucky Lanes Bowling Alley in the Village of Fredonia. An autographed bowling ball hangs on the wall where Ricky spent so much time and won so many tournaments. The signature is from his role model, pro-bowler Jason Belmonte. Through Instagram they bonded over their two favorite pastimes, bowling, and buying unique sneakers.

“Over the years we continued the friendship we had plenty of conversations about bowling and sneakers and any time there was a particularly difficult pair of shoes I was trying to get Ricky always came through,” Belmonte said.

Sadly, the two never got to meet in person.

“We never got a chance to shake hands and share a game or two on the lanes. It’s kind of the one thing you kind of take for granted — time. There was no urgency,” Belmonte said.

Immediately after winning his fourth championship this weekend, the pro bowler drove from Ohio to Fredonia to be there for this important day. Jason says he was embraced by Ricky’s friends and family.

“I guess that’s exactly how Ricky was. You’d meet him, you’d say hi a few times, and you’d realize ‘oh I’ve only known you for a month? It feels like a lot longer than that,'” Belmonte said.

While his son couldn’t be there to meet his role model, Ricky’s father says he knows his son is still there in spirit cheering them on.

‘It’s hard to lose a son at the age of 22. I think that was the hard part. events like this help us to realize that he’s still there,” said Ricky’s father, Richard. “Somehow he always got people together and he always somehow got people to get along.”

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Abby Fridmann is an award-winning anchor and reporter who joined the News 4 team in November 2020. See more of her work here and follow her on Twitter.