Mary J. Szczepanski "Never Give Up" MS Scholarship Foundation
America's First Scholarships for MS                                     Established in1997

The Mary J. Szczepanski "Never Give Up" MS Scholarship Foundation, is the first organization, dedicated to the disease Multiple Sclerosis, to award scholarships to students!
We are internationally known for our work with Multiple Sclerosis!

Our vision creates opportunities for all students!

Pledge sheet           Program resources

"Celebrating 19 years of Philanthropy"

The Mary J. Szczepanski "Never Give Up" MS Scholarship Foundation is starting its16th year and offers annual scholarships to seniors at Catholic Central, Kenowa Hills, Covenant Christian and Northview High Schools in the Grand Rapids, Michigan area for using their creativity and raising funds for Multiple Sclerosis. The inaugural year of the program was the fall of 2000. This unique and prestigious program has touched the lives of many people in communities across the world and is constantly raising awareness of this terrible disease.
High school and college students from thirty-two states and three countries (Indonesia, India and Lebanon) have contacted us on our scholarship opportunities.

Why our program was started

The program was developed in 1997 to honor my mom, who courageously fought MS for 38 years.  
My wife, also named Mary, has been suffering with the same disease for 24 years.

How our local program works

One or two $500.00 scholarships are awarded annually at each high school involved to seniors who raise the most funds for MS. Each high school program is set up differently according to their needs.  A beautiful engraved plaque is also presented to each winner to commemorate his/her accomplishment.  All money raised by the students, over $23,000 to date, has been donated for MS research.

We've seen success

The Mary J. Szczepanski "Never Give Up" MS Scholarship Foundation has built its own reputation of community awareness, education in the high schools and colleges, raising funds for Multiple Sclerosis and being recognized as the most imaginative program anywhere on earth by educators, schools, parents, students and businesses. The Szczepanski MS Scholarship Foundation was honored in 2002 with a Bronze Achievement Award for raising over $3,000.00 for MS. 

Our thirty-one scholarship recipients have attended the University of Michigan, Michigan State, Central Michigan, Ferris State, Western Michigan, Grand Valley State, Cedarville University, Oakland University, Portland State University, Oakland Community College, University of Maryland, Northeastern University in Boston, Angelo State University, University of Arizona, Portland State University, Hope College, Olivet College, Aquinas College, Catawba College, UC Davis and Grand Rapids Community College.

Our Michigan high school program

All Michigan High Schools are invited to participate annually as we search for the senior who raises the most funds for MS.  A $1,000 college scholarship and plaque will be awarded and he/she will be honored as our Michigan recipient.

Our national high school program

Students from all 50 states are invited to participate annually as we search for the senior who raises the most funds for MS.  A $1,000 college scholarship and plaque will be awarded and he/she will be honored as our national recipient.

Our national college program

Students from all 50 states are invited to participate annually as we search for the college student who raises the most funds for MS. A $1,000 scholarship and plaque will be awarded and he/she will be honored as our National recipient.

Partners for Multiple Sclerosis

We are very proud to form a partnership with Accelerated Cure Project for Multiple Sclerosis in Waltham, Massachusetts.  This cutting - edge, nonproft organization is dedicated to curing MS by determining its causes. www.acceleratedcure.org

Local connections

We are a proud member of the West Michigan Blues Society, Creston Neighborhood Association, South West Neighborhood Association (SWAN), West Grand Neighborhood Organization, Polish Heritage Society, Friends of the Musketawa Trail, Lakeshore Latino Outreach Center, Inc. and Grand Rapids Arts Council (Ohio).

Corporate sponsors

  1st year The Center for Physical Rehabilitation, Inc.
  1st year Burcon Chiropractic Research Institute
  1st year Walker Roofing, LLC
1st year Lake Michigan Credit Union
  1st year NEXT engineering & design
  1st year Ace Tattoo
  1st year Mr. Burger Restaurants
  1st year Comerica Bank
  1st year Bow Tie Tavern
  2nd year Vito Dolci Real Estate

  2nd year McEvoy Consulting LLC
  3rd year Van's Awards Plus
  3rd year Independent Bank
  4th year Tom Jager Agency
  4th year Alt & Shawmut Hills Chapel
  4th year Netserv, Inc.
  4th year Airway Oxygen, Inc.
  8th year Chemical Bank
10th year Mercantile Bank of Michigan (5 year plaque presented 12/25/05)

 We are linked to these student resources


Meet our dynamic, National MS Advisory Board
(Each one of our 13 leaders, is a recipient of one of our MS scholarships or 
one of our 8 prestigious national awards.)

Jackie Villegas 
We welcome Jackie to our program as our national scholarship and award's manager. She brings her enthusiasm, leadership and passion to our MS program and shares our mission to raise awareness for this disease.  Jackie is dedicated to honoring our great students in math and spelling and our student / athletes in volleyball. 
Enrolled at Grand Rapids Community College, Jackie is pursuing a degree in psychology.

Holli Dolci Sweedyk
We proudly welcome Holli to our national advisory board. She brings with her many talents to market our program to current college students in Grand Rapids and the entire country.  Holli has incredible leadership skills, and a rich history in business, all critical to our program.  
She is enrolled in the Sonography program at Grand Valley State University. 
In addition, Holli is always there for me.  
I can text her now, and she will write back.  Thanks Holli!!!

Marissa Iacovoni
We are blessed to have Marissa on our team, helping us in the Chicago area to secure our place in the national arena. She is a former recipient of the world renowned Volleyball "Role Model" Award.  Marissa is a proven leader, with incredible skills to make sure students from the U.S.A. get involved in our cause. An accomplished model and founder of Iacovoni and Associates in Chicago.  Marissa is now located in Texas working for McDonald's Corporation.

Sabra Kinsley
We welcome Sabra to our organization. I have worked with Sabra over 6 years and she is the most creative,energetic and mature college student I have ever known.  Besides being a co-worker, she is one of my dearest friends. Well organized, always thinking ahead makes Sabra a key to any organization but we have her first.  She knows what makes college students tick and with her rich experience in the education field, her resume is full of rewarding volunteer opportunities. Sabra is an accomplished poet with many selections published.
Sabra has earned her Bachelors Degree in psychology and Bachelors in Education from Grand Valley State University.

Jenna Saltzstein
We are extremely excited to have Jenna join us on our board.  She has the incredible experience of being a recipient of the Mary J. Szczepanski "Never Give Up" MS Scholarship in 2002, our first year at Catholic Central High School.  Jenna and her family have kept in touch over the years and they are always there for our program as strong supporters. She completed her doctorate in Physical Therapy. Jenna's passion for our program, outstanding leadership in the health field while focusing on rehab in neurological disorders, gives us a remarkable edge in our mission for Multiple Sclerosis.

Brittany Lombrana
We are very proud to have Brittany, our 1st national MS Scholarship recipient (outside of Michigan), join us on our MS foundation panel.  A graduate of Christoval High School, in Christoval, TX, Brittany, a zoology major, brings to us her incredible enthusiasm, gifted talents in fundraisng, leadership and passion to give back to others. Her experience as a student, at Angelo State University in Texas will be powerful, as we have the greatest students 
in the country working with us on our MS mission everyday.

Joya Nunn
We are very excited about Joya, our 2nd national MS Scholarship Foundation recipient and 2010 Michigan recipient, joining us on our national advisory board. Joya from Oak Park, MI is a key player to keep the interest alive on the eastside of the state which we are very fortunate to have students contact us each year.  A graduate of Detroit School of Arts, Joya will be attending the Universiy of Detroit Mercy, pursuing a career in Computer Science. Her creativity, enthusiasm and leadership skills make Joya a brilliant choice.

Carly Dickerson
Joining us, is our 2009 Michigan Volleyball Senior "Leadership" Scholarship recipient, Carly Dickerson. She is grounded in faith, maintains excellence in the classroom, and is a dynamic volleyball player and extremely talented basketball player. Whether on the court, in the classroom or taking on a career, Carly makes a big impression.  Her zest for life, leadership and personality will take her everywhere in life.

Gail Homrich Kirchhoff
Please welcome, Gail Kirchhoff, to our national MS Scholarship Foundation. In 2003, Gail was selected as our 1st Volleyball "Role Model" recipient, setting the standard for leadership, drive, determination and the love of volleyball.
In 2007, Gail graduated from Michigan State University, earning her bachelors degree in Business Marketing. An opportunity to work at Wolverine World Wide in Rockford, MI, after graduation, gave her the chance to take on many leadership roles. Traveling the country, promoting WWW's product and retailers to their core customers.  Some events included, Monster Jam and Nitro Jam. Recently, Gail was promoted to marketing manager of the Wolverine apparel division, along with the role of manager of the licensing and accessories division.  Gail still travels quite a bit.  We welcome our 1st married team member.  Gail has incredible skills in marketing, has volunteered countless hours on events, and leads by example.  

Katie Priestley
We are extremely proud to welcome Katie Priestley, our 2010 Michigan Volleyball Senior "Leadership" Scholarship recipient to our national MS Advisory Board. Katie is a leader at Newberry High School; Class President - four years, National Honor Society, Student Council - four years, and many other positions.  A four sport athlete, extremely talented in volleyball, softball, track and field and basketball.  Katie is also very active in her community as a volunteer; tutoring, canned food drive, Caroling for Elders and many more rewarding experiences.  Katie was honored as the Newberry Area Chamber of Commerce Student Citizen of the Year, received the Principal's Award, honored at the Elks Association and recognized in Lansing as one of 20 MEA scholarship recipients.
Thank you Katie for everything you do for others!

Emily Adams
University of Arizona

Hayleigh Brown
Michigan State University

Hannah Kirk
Hannah Kirk is our 1st Annual Melissa Rose Ziemer Scholarship recipient at Vincennes Lincoln High School.
Raised in Vincennes, Hannah is currently a Civil Engineering student at the University of Evansville and is pursuing a business management minor.  She works as a lifegaurd at the YMCA in Evansville and Vincennes.  Hannah is a part of  ASCE (American Society of Civil Engineering) and the Steel Bridge Team.  In her spare time, Hannah loves to sing and write.  We are very proud to have Hannah fight MS with us.  Her leadership and enthusiasm is very much appreciated.  I keep in touch with Hannah and I love her exhilaration and passion for everything she does in life.

Thank you Jackie, Holli, Marissa, Sabra, Jenna, Brittany, Joya, Carly, Gail, Katie, Emily, Hayleigh and Hannah.  You are amazing students, graduates and friends!

Students always come first with our organization!

Gifted and Talented Award

In our commitment to honor our area students for their achievements, we salute a great gifted and talented student.
Our first recipient of the "Passion for Math" Award presented to a Grand Rapids area middle school student is Myka Hall.  Myka is honored for her extraordinary talent in mathematics and will receive an 8 x 10 marble plaque donated by Michigan Aerospace Corporation in Ann Arbor, MI.
Congratulations Myka, we are very proud of you.
We are arranging a presentation with State Representatives Glenn Steil, Jr and Dave Hildenbrand along with Myka's parents and her mentors.

National college recipient

Hannah Gardner, Grand Valley State University, is our 5th national recipient.
Congratulations Hannah, we are very proud of you!

National high school recipient

Heather Reed, senior from Heritage High School in Brentwood, CA, is our 4th recipient outside of Michigan. This past winter we went to the national audience for the fourth time.
Heather will attend UC Davis in the fall and study biological sciences and eventually enroll in the Physician's Assistant program.
Congratulations, Heather!  We are very proud of you!

Melissa Rose Ziemer Scholarship recipient

Senior Lora Margerum is our 3rd recipient at Vincennes Lincoln High School.
We created the Melissa Rose Ziemer Scholarship as a living tribute to our dear friend Melissa.  She is an incredible singer / songwriter and actress born and raised in Carbondale, Illinois until age 9 then moving to Vincennes, Indiana until age 18.  Melissa moved to Chicago and played festivals, clubs, private parties and many other venues.  Melissa is a proud 1991 graduate of Vincennes Lincoln High School.
Congratulations Lora, we are very proud of you!

"Faith and Leadership" Award recipient

Sophia Skipper, junior from Mount Carmel Academy in New Orleans, Louisiana, is our 5th recipient. Mount Carmel Academy has a rich tradition in Catholic education and some of the top students in the country.  Sophia was chosen for being grounded in the Catholic faith and volunteering her time in the communities.
Congratulations Sophia, we are very proud of you!

Volleyball "Role Model" Award recipient

Defensive specialist Annie Newton, from Battle Creek St. Philip Catholic Central High School, is
our 2014 recipient. She is an incredible leader, a state champion, and a team player.
Congratulations Annie, we are very proud of you!

National Volleyball Senior "Leadership" Scholarship recipient

Heather Reed, a 5' 8" setter from Heritage High School in Brentwood, California is 
our 2014 national recipient. Heather was selected from all USA senior volleyball 
student / athletes.
Congratulations Heather, we are very proud of you!

Red Cloud High School Volleyball "Leading by Example" Award

Junior Trista Merrival is our 2nd Annual recipient at Red Cloud High School in
Pine Ridge, South Dakota.  Setter Trista carries a 3.79 GPA in the classroom
and is an incredible leader.
Congratulations Trista!

Highlands Middle School Spelling Bee recipient

In January 2015, Highlands Middle School, Northview Public Schools, held their 17th Annual Spelling Bee with Jenna Lerond, a 6th grade student claiming first place.
Julianna Luttenmoser was runner-up
Congratulations to everyone who participated and to these two fine students.
Scholastic, the world's leader in educational material proudly sponsored the winner's plaque.

Pythagorean Math Award recipient

Sun Yool Park, 2015 senior at Catherine McAuley High School in 
Portland, Maine, was presented the Pythagorean Math Award at Senior Award Night.
Congratulations Sun!!

"Mathematics and Community Service" Award recipient

Dominic Taylor was honored on April 9, 2015 at the Mathematics Department Awards ceremony at Grand Valley State University.
Congratulations Dominic!  We are very proud of you.

Community Education Through Public Speaking
60 years of Real Life MS Experience

MS Workshops
MS Seminars
Life enrichment skills for MS families
Motivational speeches - Elementary / High School / College
Leadership workshops
Educators for Safe Schools - workshops
Speak Up! (Anti-bullying) www.Bullying.com
Bullying in the workplace seminars
Call for a speaking opportunity you will not forget

Code of Ethics
The Mary J. Szczepanski Foundation
may remove annual scholarships from any school which does not follow the rules of integrity and moral values upon which this program is based on. Our philosophy is simple and our philanthropy is for our kids. Two high schools were stripped of their annual scholarships due to the inappropriate behavior of a male Catholic high school principal and a public school female varsity volleyball coach.
Rick Szczepanski may remove any special awards from any school whose behavior does not reflect the highest standards.
Rick's gifts are unique and should never be taken for granted.