On June 27th, 2005, our family suffered a terrible tragedy. Erick, (the E in ZEMS) died in a car accident a couple of miles from home. He was just 22 years old. This loss almost meant the end of ZEMS, not knowing if we had what it would take to reopen after the funeral.
The outpouring of support from our wonderful community convinced us we needed to reopen.
Today, ZEMS is open with Erick at our backs to push us forward. Erick loved music and played the sax, guitar, piano and drums. So we decided to keep his memory alive through music.
Each year, on the last day of the season, the day before Labor Day, we hold the "Labor of Love for Erick".
It's an all day music festival with basket raffles, food and Cruz-Ins. All proceeds from the day including mini golf and ice cream sales go directly to the Erick D. Stevens Memorial Day Scholarship Fund. The ZEMS girls even donate their time and tips to the fund.
Through the fund, we support the music program at the Canastota Central Schools. The fund has purchased a grand piano, a digital recording system and a music lab.
Each year around Erick's birthday in April, the music department gives us a wish list. We buy something on the list in honor of Erick. They also hold a concert in his memory.
We also do 2 scholarships for students who most mirror Erick and his goals. We have also begun to support the AYSO soccer program because Erick loved to play soccer.
Although Erick is no longer with us physically, mentally and spiritually he is strong in our hearts. Our family will continue to do good things, lasting things in Erick's memory.