Every once in a while we come across someone who is so passionate and driven that it inspires us to go beyond and do better ourselves. Usually, we hear these stories about Olympic athletes because when hundreds of athletes from all different walks of life come together, there is bound to be a story where someone triumphed over their circumstances. In America, we call this idea the American Spirit, and here in Fort Walton Beach a young man named Joseph Bello is living up to this ideal.
As his first sailing coach, I take obvious pride in the strides that he has made, but it is his enduring passion and hard work that make him an inspiration to me. Joseph, the son of Peter and Mary Bello, said his first introduction to sailing was around two years old because his Dad had a passion for sailing and liked to take him out on a Hobie 16 as a child. Joseph did not take to sailing immediately, but as he grew he eventually learned to enjoy it as a hobby, which turned into a passion for a sport.
Joe has had a quick rise to the top, and in less than a year he has taken on some of the toughest regattas and done remarkably well earning titles such as top youth sailor at the Hobie 16 North Americans and 1st at the Junior Olympics last year. These are only two of the many top honors Joe has had in his short time, but Joe’s rise is not an enigma.
All of Joe’s life his Dad has dealt with severe kidney problems and has been told for over 20 years that he needed a transplant. Peter kept on though without it, and knew how hard and expensive something like dialysis could be as well, so he kept running his business and providing for his wife and child while enduring his own suffering. As time went on, Joe’s Mom came into the business to help, and eventually Peter Bello had to go on dialysis. For the better part of this year Joe’s Dad has been on dialysis for 5 days a week for 5 hours at a time. To many this would be depressing and defeating, but Joe and his family got stronger. Just this month, Joe’s Dad finally got called to Jacksonville for a transplant. Mary and Peter drove through the night, and Peter finally got the kidney transplant he had needed for so long.
It is easy to see that his Dad stands as Joe’s guiding light and role model, but like I said, his rise is not an enigma, but the consequence of knowing how to work hard through any adversity and not to let the circumstances of life bring you down. Joe has spent the entire summer working and training, and he left this weekend to fly to California with his crew Tyler Holmes from Panama City, FL as a part of Team Gulfstyle to compete in the F18 World Catamaran Sailing Championships. He is likely to be one of the youngest competitors there at the age of 17, but Joe represents Gulfstyle at its finest ideal… a great adventurer, sportsman, and gentleman with a drive to pursue a dream. We wish him and his crew a calm mind, quiet determination, and the best of luck. You can follow him on Facebook at www.facebook.com/fdubflyers or through the Gulfstyle Facebook page www.facebook.com/livingulfstyle