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 16 years of Philanthropy"
The Mary J. Szczepanski "Never Give Up" MS Scholarship Foundation is starting its14th 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 22 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 $21,150 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 twenty-seven scholarship recipients have attended the University of Michigan, Michigan State, Central Michigan, Ferris State, Western Michigan, Grand Valley State, Cedarville University, Oakland University, Oakland Community College, University of Maryland, Northeastern University in Boston, Angelo State University, University of Arizona, Hope College, Olivet College, Aquinas College, Catawba College 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 $500 - $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 $500 - $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
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).
1st year The Center for Physical Rehabilitation, Inc.
1st year Burcon Chiropractic Research Institute
1st year Walker Roofing, LLC
1st year Independent Bank
1st year Lake Michigan Credit Union
1st year McEvoy Consulting LLC
1st year NEXT engineering & design
1st year Ace Tattoo
1st year Mr. Burger Restaurants
1st year Comerica Bank
1st year Bow Tie Tavern
3rd year Van's Awards Plus
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)
Our program speaks for itself. Just ask our 162 friends,
throughout the world, who share our cause.
AVON Representative / Kentwood, MI
Grand Rapids, MI MS volunteer
Photographer, speaker, author and teacher
Parker Bohn III
PBA Hall of Fame member - 33 titles
Professional bowler - Lake Forest, CA
St. Joseph Catholic Grade School
Grand Rapids, Minnesota
Bridging Grand Rapids, Michigan and Grand Rapids, Minnesota
St. Joseph Catholic Grade School
Sacred Heart Catholic Grade School
Legendary Boot Hill Saloon
Daytona Beach, Florida
3 Confections and Pastries
Andrea De Graaf - Casnovia, MI
Cookies by design
Knapp's Corner in Grand Rapids
Port Orange, Florida
Derrick Owens, Sr
Basketball coach, motivational speaker, mentor, educator
Palmer Service, Inc
Complete car care
Chris - Riding across Canada for MS
Nanny in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Dr. Michael Robinson
President / Optometrist at Coventry Eye Care Associates
Crystal Lake, Illinois
Grand Rapids, MI teacher - retired
Vester Davis, Jr
Grand Valley State University student / mentor
Bell Forest Products
Assistant Professor and Director of Clinical Education
University of Evansville, IN
Head Volleyball Coach - University of Rochester
Canadian Women's National Volleyball Team
Certified massage therapist and personal trainer in Grand Rapids
Co-Founder / Vamp Global Mission-NGO
McEVOY CONSULTING, LLC
Dr. Marcia McEvoy / Grand Rapids
World class illustrator - www.mandapandarawks.com
Financial Advisor - LPL Financial in Grand Rapids
Anita Cesarline - Engle
Former GRCC Westside Learning Corner student / Africa
Award winning Vermont cheddar cheese
John Russo's Carrettino Italian Market
International foods and wines / Grand Rapids
Mieras Shoes since 1922
Kent County,Commissioner / Michigan
State Representative 76th House District / Michigan
Educator / Peace Corps volunteer in Peru
Lifemax - West Palm Beach, FL
Dress My Rescue
Nicole Notario-Risk / Founder Grand Rapids
Kirk J. Agerson MD
AF Associates Family Medicine PC / Grand Rapids
Kevin A. Coe DDS / Kentwood
Burkhart & Chapp Chiropractic PLC
Dr. Tim and Dr. Jim keeping you aligned in life / Caledonia
Eric Beuker - Pen Designer / Grand Rapids
Glass Eye Butterfly
Designs by Rosemary Cheslock / Grand Rapids
Debbie Flynn Designs
Custom jewelry creations by Debbie Flynn / Grand Rapids
Mike Johson / Belding, MI
Best Western Grandvillage Inn / Grandville, MI
The world's leader in publishing
Jim Goodrich - Manager / Grandville, MI
Indoor golf center / Grand Rapids, MI
Iacovoni and Associates
Exquisite interior design for your dreams / Chicago and Houston
Leslie Saltzstein Wooldridge, MSN, RNCS, GNP
Daughter Jenna Saltzstein - 2002 MS Scholarship recipient
Michigan Governor Jennifer M. Granholm
Texas Governor Rick Perry
Former First Lady Rosalynn Carter
Most Reverend Walter A. Hurley - Grand Rapids Diocese
Reverend Eugene S. Golas
Mother Dolores Hart, Pr. O.S.B. - The Abbey / Connecticut
American Physical Therapy Association
Lake Michigan Catholic Schools
Michigan Health Occupational Educators Association
First Lady Michelle Obama
Western Michigan University Alumni Association
Independent Bank - Standale
Open 7 days a week for all your banking needs
Tom Jager Agency
Creating the perfect insurance plan for your family
Lakeshore Latino Outreach Center, Inc.
Michigan's oldest jeweler
Israels Designs for Living
Big Boy Restaurants
Pearl Street, home of our benefits, is the #1 store in Michigan
West Michigan's premier running store / Grandville
Reality Radio - WPRR 1680AM
Tuesdays with Tormala 10AM
Fresh Flower Market
Alpine Avenue Golf Center
Home of our annual miniature golf classics
Home of our annual bowling benefits
Website creations and more
Van's Awards Plus
Creating our plaques to honor our students
Marlene and Billy VerPlanck
World class singer and composer duo
The legendary Carole King
Award winning musician and radio host
Award winning jazz artist and original songwriter
Singer, acress, writer and musician
Raised in Michigan and lives in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania
Jazz vocalist & Composer, Singer / Songwriter, Voice instructor and Visual artist
2012 Blues Music Awards - Best New Artist Debut Nominee
The hottest female blues artist today!
Natasha Meister - blues guitarist
Canadian blues singer / songwriter
Blues singer and songwriter
Jazz singer - Germany
Jazz pianist and composer
Award winning jazz pianist and composer
Edye Evans Hyde
2011 West Michigan Jazz Society Musician of the Year
Jazz, blues and pop artist from Grand Rapids
Award winning jazz and original songwriter
Nashville recording artistt and actress
Award winning author
Author - Song of the River
Author - Fire Point and The Invisible World
Author - Blood in the Sky
Author - Dust of Eden
Maple Grove, MN
Author - Winona's Web
Sweet Potato Sensations
Jazz pianist, vocalist and performer
Broadway musical star and acclaimed vocalist
Melissa Rose Ziemer
Chicago's best entertainer
International singer and producer
Grand Rapids singer and songwriter
Guitarist, vocalist and songwriter
Dale Westrick - All American Offensive Tackle
Grand Valley State University
2002 NCAA Division II National Champions
Grand Rapids Sports Hall of Fame member
Maria C. Lesetz
Certified life coach and motivational speaker
Accelerated Cure Project for MS
A cutting edge 501 c 3 non profit organization in Waltham, MA
Down right "Hot" blues from Chicago, Illinois
Rod Piazza and The All Mighty Flyers
Tedeschi Trucks Band
Susan Tedeschi and Derek Trucks
Harry Lucas and The Lowdown
Grand Rapids, Michigan's best blues band
The Kelly Richey Band
The best in blues from the Midwest
The Tommy Castro Band
International blues artist
Jimmy Thackery and The Drivers
Simply the best in the blues
Ronnie Baker Brooks
International blues artist
Moms in Touch International
Supporting moms, families and schools
Phase III Graphics
Taking care of your printing ideas
Exceptional care for our loved ones
The best coffeehouse in Grand Rapids, MI
Coffee, music and friends in Rockford, MI
Coffee, nightly artists and fun in Hudsonville, MI
Home of our "Biggby fights MS" benefits
Great food, fun and friends in Grand Rapids, MI
Design 1 Spa
Come relax and let Design 1 pamper you
West Michigan Whitecaps
Noto's Old World Italian Dining
BOATWERKS Waterfront Restaurant
The perfect place to lodge - White Cloud, MI
Amway Grand Plaza Hotel
A five star hotel
Traverse City, MI
The best kielbasa in Grand Rapids
Wolf Tracks Massage Therapy
Jeffrey Simancek / owner Allendale, MI
Jordan Valley Glassworks
Beautiful blown glass / East Jordan, MI
Ravines Golf Club
Betsy Ratzsch Pottery
Vitale's Sport & Lounge
Comstock Park, MI
Vitale's Italian Restaurant
Grand Rapids - Leonard NE
A unique dining experience at 4th and Stocking
Incredibly Edible Delites, Inc.
Mr. Gordie Howe
Grand Rapids Griffins
Hockeytown in Grand Rapids, MI
Comstock Park, MI
Annette Funicello Bear Company
Mission Viejo, CA
Grand Rapids, MI
Frederick Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park
Boulder Creek Golf Club
Saugatuck Boat Cruises
Dominican Center at Marywood
Beltline Big Band
East Grand Rapids wood artist
Grand Victorian B & B
Harbor House Inn
Grand Haven, MI
West Michigan Blues Society
Blues in the schools program and your blues connection
Battle Creek St. Philip Catholic Central High School
Angelo State University
Oakland Communiy College
Grand Valley State University
A World Class university
Grand Rapids Community College
Preparing our students for the future
We are linked to these student resources
Meet our dynamic, National MS Advisory Board
(Each one of our 10 leaders, is a recipient of one of our MS scholarships or
one of our 8 prestigious national awards.)
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!!!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
Thank you Jackie, Holli, Marissa, Sabra, Jenna, Brittany, Joya, Carly, Gail and Katie. 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
Emily Adams, the University of Arizona, pursuing a degree in Family Studies and Human Development is our 2nd national recipient.
Congratulations Emily, we are very proud of you!
National high school recipient
Danielle Cooper, senior from Myrtle Beach High School, in Myrtle Beach, SC, is our 3rd recipient outside of Michigan. This past winter we went to the national audience for the third time.
Danielle raised the most funds for MS out of 30 seniors nationwide.
Our recipient is attending Catawba College in North Carolina.
Congratulations, Danielle! We are very proud of you!
Melissa Rose Ziemer Scholarship recipient
Senior Hannah Kirk is our 1st recipient at Vincennes Lincoln High School. Hannah will attend the University of Evansville to pursue a degree in Civil or Mechanical Engineering.
We created the Melissa Rose Ziemer Scholarship as a living tribute to our dear friend Melissa. She is an incredible singer / songwriter and actress from Vincennes, Indiana. 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.
"Faith and Leadership" Award recipient
Emily Pfister, senior from Mount Carmel Academy in New Orleans, Louisiana, is our 3rd recipient of our new honor. Mount Carmel Academy has a rich tradition in Catholic education and some of the top students in the country. Emily was chosen for being grounded in the Catholic faith and volunteering her time in the communities. She will be attending Louisiana State University and pursue a career in Speech Therapy! Congratulations Emily, we are very proud of you!
Volleyball "Role Model" Award recipient
Casey Gallagher, 5' 7" senior middle hitter from Battle Creek St. Philip Catholic Central High School is our 2012 recipient. She is an incredible leader, a 4 time state champion, 2012 All-City Honorable Mention and a team player. Casey is attending Michigan State University to pursue a degree in Kinesiology.
Congratulations Casey, we are very proud of you!
Michigan Volleyball Senior "Leadership" Scholarship recipient
Bailey Meredith, a 5' 5" setter, outside hitter from Tri - County High School in Howard City, is our 2011 Michigan recipient. While maintaining a 4.0 G.P.A in the classroom, she is pursuing a career as a Physician's Assistant, Bailey may attend Grand Valley State University or Western Michigan Uinversity next fall. Bailey was selected from all Michigan senior volleyball student / athletes.
Congratulations Bailey, we are very proud of you!
Highlands Middle School Spelling Bee recipient
On January 9, 2013, Highlands Middle School, Northview Public Schools, held their 15th Annual Spelling Bee with Ethan Klaiss, a 6th grade student claiming first place.
Zackson Walters, a 4th grader from North Oakview, finished in second.
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
On June 29, 2013, Taylor Church, senior at Catherine McAuley High School in
Portland, Maine, was presented the Pythagorean Math Award at Senior Award Night. Taylor is attending Yale or Johns Hopkins University and majoring in Biomedical Engineering.
"Mathematics and Community Service" Award recipient
5th annual junior recipient selected at Grand Valley State University. Sarah Jamison was honored on April 12, 2013 at the Mathematics Department Awards ceremony. Sarah volunteered at Union High Schol and Rockford High School.
Congratulations Sarah! We are very proud of you.
Community Education Through Public Speaking
57 years of Real Life MS Experience
Life enrichment skills for MS families
Motivational speeches - Elementary / High School / College
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 high school principal and a 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.