(May 12, 2022)
Jeffrey Walker, the St. Petersburg neurosurgeon who helped start the Walker’s Rising Stars student arts competition 19 years ago, is ramping up his support with a $2 million gift to keep the program going “in perpetuity,” the Pinellas Education Foundation announced late Thursday.
The foundation disclosed the donation during the Walker’s Rising Stars show at Mahaffey Theater in St. Petersburg. The annual event features live performances in the categories of dance, instrumental music, theater and vocal, while also showcasing student work in the visual and culinary arts. The evening culminates with an announcement of the winners and the awarding of scholarships.
“As we approach our 20th anniversary, and in thinking about how to give back, I knew I wanted to continue to support students. I love kids; they’re the future,” Walker said in a statement provided by the foundation. “I love the arts and I owe everything I have to education. This program makes a material difference in these students’ lives, and that makes me happy.”
Walker’s Rising Stars is a year-long initiative which assists Pinellas County high school juniors and seniors in the arts as they hone their audition and portfolio skills. Over the years, the program has awarded more than $800,000 in scholarships.