By Stephanie Choate
A fundraiser for the Joe Shook Scholarship, named in memory of a Williston resident, combines two of his favorite things.
All Shook Up—a comedy night set for Jan. 19 featuring local comedians Josie Leavitt, Sue Schmidt and Tracie Spencer—will raise money for Partners in Adventure, which partners children and young adults with their non-disabled peers at camps and year-round social programs.
“It just came to me to do a comedy event,” said Shook’s mother, Liz Jordan-Shook. “It’s a combination of two of his favorite things, Partners in Adventure and comedy… Joe had a great sense of humor and he loved to share it.”
Shook passed away suddenly in June of 2011 at age 20. Partners in Adventure was a major part of his life, Jordan-Shook said.
“Joe had been involved with Partners in Adventure for like 12 years, and he was one of the organization’s biggest fans,” she said. “It was such a positive place for Joe to be.”
Deborah Lamden, executive director at Partners in Adventure, said Shook was beloved within the organization and the larger community.
“Joe was with us always, he loved everything that we did,” she said. “I know he felt Partners in Adventure was a special family for him. We all really haven’t gotten over (his death), not that we ever will.”
Lamden agreed that Shook would have loved a comedy night.
“What was so great about Joe was he had this very straight face,” she said. “He would come out with one-liners that you couldn’t believe you were hearing come out of him. They were so intelligent and funny and witty.”
Partners in Adventure gives children and young adults, like Shook, a chance to try activities like rock climbing, zip lining and sailing, and to come together for social activities they might otherwise miss, such as dances.
“It was such a diverse amount of activity in a really safe and supportive environment,” Jordan-Shook said. “All of that was open to him regardless of what might be challenging. There’s really not a lot of places you can get that.”
When Shook passed away, the family requested that donations be made to Partners in Adventure, and the organization created a scholarship fund in his honor. Funds poured in, resulting in the largest amount of scholarships that summer.
The board, which includes Jordan-Shook, decided to come up with a way to regularly replenish the fund—a comedy night, which Jordan-Shook said she hopes will become an annual event.
“It’s an opportunity to come together and celebrate two things that were really important to Joe,” she said.
“What a great way to spend an evening, having fun yourself but also knowing all the proceeds go to a scholarship fund for kids to go to summer camp. It can’t get any better than that.”
All Shook Up is set for Jan. 19 at FlynnSpace in Burlington, beginning with a meet and greet at 7 p.m. The show begins at 8 p.m. Tickets are $45 and available at www.flynntix.com or 863-5966. For more information or to donate to the Joe Shook Scholarship Fund, visit www.partnersinadventure.org.