Making the most of a tragic situation, that’s how Rooster Walk came about.
The Rooster Walk Music and Arts Festival was created in memory of two of our best childhood friends who passed away while still in their 20s: Edwin “the Rooster” Penn and Walker Shank. This festival celebrates life and the notion that you shouldn’t waste a moment of it.
When Edwin died in a dirt-bike accident in November 2007, and Walker passed from heart trouble while asleep in his apartment in December 2008, close friends decided a music festival was a fitting way to tribute. Rooster Walk was created, with the idea that proceeds from the festival go toward a college scholarship fund at their alma mater, Martinsville High School.
We’re happy to report that the mission has been a great success. We’ve raised more than $210,000 for local and regional charities, with more than half of that going to the “Penn-Shank Memorial Scholarship Fund” for outstanding MHS seniors.
Martinsville has been a poster child for this country’s struggle with jobs going overseas and a shrinking middle class. The city has led Virginia in unemployment for more than decade, often with a jobless figure above 15 percent.
But Martinsville is starting to bounce back, thanks in part to strong grassroots efforts from a wide range of devoted citizens. Rooster Walk is being embraced for its tourism and quality of life values, playing a small but growing role in the area’s social fabric. … And the folks organizing this shindig couldn’t be prouder.
Penn-Shank Memorial Scholarship Fund
(Submit completed scholarship application forms to roosterwalk(at)gmail.com.) Just like Rooster Walk Inc., the Penn-Shank Memorial Scholarship Endowment Fund is named after Edwin “the Rooster” Penn IV and Walker Shank. Organizers of Rooster Walk Inc., grew up as close friends with Edwin and Walker, and their deaths inspired the creation of the Rooster Walk Music & Arts Festival, which spawned Rooster Walk Inc. (a 501c3 community nonprofit dedicated to promoting music, arts and education in Martinsville-Henry County), which has, in turn, led to the creation of the Brewster Walk craft beer festival and concerts. Each spring, one outstanding senior at Martinsville High School is awarded the merit-based Penn-Shank Scholarship, a $4,000 award spread over four years of undergraduate study. To date, Rooster Walk Inc. has donated more than $110,000 to the endowment.
Rooster Walk Music Instrument Program
Rooster Walk Inc.’s newest charitable initiative, the Music Instrument Program, was created with donations made in memory of the late Todd Eure. Todd was a member of Martinsville High School’s class of 2000 and close friends with classmates Edwin Penn, Walker Shank and event organizers William Baptist and Johnny Buck. The Music Instrument Program collects old band instruments from the public, gets them repaired/refurbished, then donates them to entry level band programs in the Martinsville City and Henry County public school systems. Rooster Walk Inc. also donates money each year to these band programs that is specifically earmarked to repair these instruments.
The instruments are made available to first- and second-year band students who might not have the financial means to purchase or rent an instrument, or to students who prefer to try several different instruments before settling on one for the rest of their musical careers.
In addition, Rooster Walk awards “micro grants” to the band programs at Martinsville Middle, Martinsville High, Laurel Park Middle, Fieldale-Collinsville Middle, Magna Vista High and Bassett High schools. These grants can be used for any number of needs, ranging from buying sheet music, intrusment repair kits, snare drum heads, etc.
This program has been funded by special donations from Hooker Furniture, American Global Logistics – Martinsville Branch, private individuals in the community, and event proceeds from Rooster Walk, the Brunch, Ballads & Beer event held during the festival, and Brewster Walk.
If you’d like to make a monetary donation, please write the check to Rooster Walk Inc. If you want to earmark the donation toward a specific cause (like the instrument fund or scholarship fund), simply write that fund name on the check’s memo line. Rooster Walk Inc. is a 501c3 nonprofit and all donations are tax deductible. Please mail them to:
Rooster Walk Inc.
PO Box 601
Martinsville, Va. 24114