Walk for Music Spotlight: Madeleine Steczynski

As we prepare for ZUMIX’s 2024 Walk for Music, we’ll be highlighting a few members of the ZUMIX community to tell us about their experiences with the Walk. Learn more and sign up to fundraise!

What is Walk for Music? 

Walk for Music is an annual celebration and a gathering of the whole ZUMIX community. We come together to uplift each other, and to bring visibility and attention to our work. We also get to reconnect with people we haven’t seen in a long time–it’s like a reunion day at ZUMIX. And it all happens within an overarching framework of supporting our work and the organization that we love. 

Tell us about the history of Walk for Music. 

We’ve been involved with Walk for Music for many years – probably since the mid-1990s. Boston’s original Walk for Music was initiated by Ellen Schreiber, who wanted to create a peer-to-peer fundraising event that many organizations could plug into. 

At that time, the Walk happened in the Fenway, and ZUMIX was working out of our old building at 202 Maverick Street, serving about 100 students per year. One of our board members, Julia Wang, had a vision for how we could use the Walk to mobilize our community in a new way. She believed we could have a lot of fun, stay true to our mission, and raise money in a way we hadn’t previously done. 

Julia asked us, and we asked ourselves: how do we get every one of our students and families to show up and do their part? We mapped our community and sent personal invitations to participants and families. We went class to class, talking to every kid and parent. We created materials for them to go out and be ambassadors for this work. We made T-shirts. And on the day, it was extremely moving to have so many people we knew and loved show up on behalf of ZUMIX. That was a game-changer. 

How did the Walk come to Eastie? 

Ellen was looking for a new area (due to construction) to hold the Walk, and she asked us about East Boston. For decades, Eastie has been investing in expanded green space. Bremen Street Park had just opened, and we mapped out several potential routes. We chose the greenway with the intent of landing in Piers Park. 

We partnered in getting all the different groups to come to East Boston, and we did that for several years. Ellen’s circumstances eventually changed, and she asked us if we would like to continue to run the Walk. 

What’s the best part of Walk for Music? 

The most inspirational thing to me is welcoming every member of our community to be agents of support. It’s an invitation for them to have an impact on an organization they care about. We’re so much more powerful when everybody does a little part. It also reminds me: don’t ever underestimate anyone. So many people have blown my mind in terms of their honesty and care and their willingness to help. 

On the day itself, there’s live music here at the building. There’s face painting and live music and dancing and yummy snacks. We get to celebrate, connect, and be joyful together. 

What’s the goal this year?

This year’s fundraising goal is the largest we’ve ever had. I remember the moment where Julia said, “I think we could raise $10,000 from this event,” and we did. And now this year, we’re aiming to raise over $100,000 and I have total faith that we’ll do it. And it will be fun! How often can you say that raising that much money will be fun?

Why do YOU walk for music? 

It’s a really tangible way to celebrate more than three decades of work, and to feel the collective power of our ZUMIX community. We get to literally show up for ZUMIX with pride and excitement. Everyone is welcome!

I walk because it’s fun. I walk because it’s powerful. I walk because I believe in our work. And I walk because I want to do my part. 

Madeleine Steczynski is the co-founder and executive director of ZUMIX.