“We Just Want to Give Back”

Robert Johnson Memorial Scholarship Fund has already given more than $7,500 to local students and organizers hope the inaugural golf tournament will allow them to give more.

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Valley Bowling Center owner Dale Johnson with 2022 Robert Johnson Memorial Scholarship winners Lennon Dailey (left) and Sydney Rex. Photo courtesy Valley Bowling Center.

YOUNGSVILLE, Pa. – While golfers are trying to squeeze in as many rounds as the weather will allow this time of year, bowlers are starting to polish their shoes in anticipation of a new season.

One new event this year hopes to bring the best of both worlds together, all in an effort to raise money for local students.

The Inaugural Robert Johnson Memorial Golf Tournament is set for Saturday, Aug. 27 at Jackson Valley Golf Course, with all the proceeds to benefit the Robert Johnson Memorial Scholarship Fund at Valley Bowling Center.

“We just want to be able to offer the kiddos that bowl with us more, that’s really what it boils down to,” Valley Bowling owner Kellie Johnson said. “The families have been so good to us that we just feel like maybe we can make these scholarships bigger and offer them to more people. We just want to give back.”

To date, the Scholarship Fund has awarded more than $7,500 to local students. The fund was created as a way to both give back to local bowlers and honor Robert Johnson’s memory.

“Dale’s (Kellie’s husband) dad (Robert) sat at the counter for hours every week,” Kellie Johnson said. “He bowled for a while but then when he was physically unable to bowl anymore, he would sit there and drink his coffee, have a snack out of the snack bar, and watch bowlers. Like for hours. He loved to be there when the kids were there.”

Dale and Kellie decided to create the Scholarship Fund after Robert passed away in 2016. Any senior who bowls in Valley’s junior program may fill out a scholarship application. A committee chooses winners.

“We have a committee that chooses the scholarship winners,” Kellie said. “We don’t feel it’s fair for Dale and I to do it because we know them all personally.”

The committee awards two $500 scholarships to seniors each year. A new wrinkle was added last year as Valley held a scholarship tournament open to all grade levels.

“Kiddos from all ages, all grades, qualify at the league level for the scholarship tournament, and we have two different weeks of qualifying rounds and then we hold a one-day tournament, and they all bowl,” Kellie said. “Last year we had 44 kids bowl in it and we awarded just about $2,500.”

Scholarship money won by bowlers who are not graduating is held for them until graduation.

So far, all the money raised for the fund has been done through various bowling events at Valley Bowling Center. Kellie said the community response to these events has “been phenomenal,” but adding additional fundraisers will allow the committee to award bigger and/or more scholarships.

“If we can do those two $500 scholarships and then maybe bump one up, or who knows add a scholarship there or be able to offer more money in the scholarship tournament or something,” Kellie said.

Adding this new event has its own learning curve as well.

“I’m a wreck,” Kellie said laughing. “It’s way easier to do a bowling tournament than a golf tournament. There’s so much that goes into it. It’s so crazy.”

The tournament is open to golfers of all ages and skill levels and will be a four-person team scramble. The cost is $65 per person or $260 per team to enter. There will be a 9 a.m. shotgun start will both scratch and Peoria scoring.

“Joe Yeagle (JVGC Head Golf Pro) said that Peoria scoring makes it more fair and golfers that aren’t top-notch golfers are still eligible to win something,” Kellie said.

Individuals or teams who wish to register for the event may do so by calling 814-688-4856.