Cody Szelc (left) was the guest speaker at the annual Mike Evans Family Foundation Gala and shared his story of how its scholarship from 2021 helped him go to college.

On June 10, Riverview High School graduate and lifelong Buccaneers fan Cody Szelc spoke at the second annual Mike Evans Family Foundation Gala, from which he had received a scholarship in 2021.

Szelc was raised by his single mother, which, he admitted in his speech, presented many challenges. However, he used these challenges to motivate himself into becoming a hard worker in all aspects of his life.

“Through these troubled times though, my mom had a phrase that will never leave my side, which is that ‘you can do anything you set your mind to,’” said Szelc at the gala.

While devoting himself to his academics, Szelc balanced his time at Riverview by playing football. Szelc was the kicker for the Sharks for three years and knew he wanted to go to Monmouth College in Monmouth, Illinois. With his financial situation, he was not sure it would be possible to attend the out-of-state school.

“The scholarship was the miracle I needed,” said Szelc.

Szelc is now the starting kicker for the Fighting Scots and has made the dean’s list every semester. He helped Monmouth College’s team win the Midwest Conference Title and the Lakefront Bowl this year.

“After meeting with Mr. and Mrs. Evans on a Zoom call, I realized how down-to-earth and genuine they really are. I also got the impression that they truly wished they could have helped every single kid that applied,” said Szelc in the speech.

The junior told the audience about what he has learned at Monmouth College and his plans for after he graduates.

Szelc was selected to speak at this year’s gala after submitting a seven-minute speech to the foundation, which was looking for past scholarship recipients to share their stories.

Each year, the Mike Evans Family Foundation awards 13 $10,000 scholarships to high school seniors who display a well-rounded resume but may not be able to attend college due to financial reasons. The applications open at the beginning of April and close at the end of May.

For more information on the Mike Evans Family Foundation’s gala and scholarships, visit its website at

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Lily Belcher
Lily Belcher is a writer for the Osprey Observer. She started as an intern in the summer of 2020 and has continued to write for the Osprey Observer since completing her internship. Lily is majoring in mass communications at the University of South Florida and is a staff writer for the university’s paper, The Oracle. She enjoys writing about local nonprofit organizations and community role models who have made an impact on her hometown.