Young bowler remembered with bowl-a-thon

Bowling coach of girl who died on Florida vacation organizes fundraiser

— Jake Rivers, a bowling coach at Spare Time in Latham, thought 11-year-old Ashton Jojo was funny and he remembers her smile.

“I liked Ashton. … She had a partner that went to school with her that she bowled with and they always laughed and joked around with each other,” said Rivers.

Now, Rivers is trying to help Jojo's family through a difficult and tragic time.

Jojo, who just completed fifth grade at Southgate Elementary School in the North Colonie School District, died suddenly on Wednesday, June 27, while on vacation with her family in Florida. According to local, national and international media reports, Jojo was electrocuted while reaching into a pool of water on a miniature golf course to retrieve a lost ball.

“Ashton was a beloved member of the Southgate community who was a good friend to many students and staff. She will be sorely missed,” school officials said in a districtwide email the day after her death.

Rivers is organizing a bowl-a-thon fundraiser in Jojo’s memory at Spare Time on Saturday, July 28, from 1 to 4 p.m. A $16 admission fee buys two games of bowling, with bowling shoe rental. Half of the proceeds raised will go to Jojo’s family.

“I just hope a lot of people show up,” said Rivers.

Rivers said he called all the members of Jojo’s bowling team and “99 percent” said they’d show up.

“I just want to make sure the family’s sorrows go away maybe a little easier,” said Rivers.

With a 12-year-old daughter himself, Rivers said he feels for Jojo’s family.

“I know what they’re going through,” said Rivers.

Rivers was Jojo’s bowling coach for a little over a year. Even in that short amount of time, Rivers said the “happy go lucky” girl stood out from the mass of kids he teaches and he could tell she had something special.

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