13 Lee County students receive Red Sox Foundation scholarships
Being on a Major League Baseball field is a pretty cool experience for those who do not get to play on one every day, and is an even cooler experience when you’re being honored for your hard work before the start of a Major League game.
Thirteen Lee County students got that opportunity last Saturday before the Red Sox spring training game at Jet Blue Park, as they were recipients of $5,000 scholarships from the Red Sox Foundation.
The recipients were recognized individually over the PA system and headed out onto the field one by one where they got to meet Red Sox manager Alex Cora.
“I’m very excited to get this scholarship. I grew up watching baseball as a kid, so to actually get to stand on a field was like a dream come true to me,” said Mariner High School senior Madison Smith.
She was also pretty excited to see a former Heisman Trophy winner turned Major League hopeful Tim Tebow, who is part of the New York Mets’ organization, the Red Sox opponent that afternoon.
“I also got to see Tim Tebow, so that made my day on top of getting the scholarship.”
Smith plans on attending the University of Florida where she will be enrolled in its nursing program.
This scholarship, she said, will help take the burden off of her parents when it comes to yearly enrollment fees.
“I have to support myself through college because my older brother has a lot of medical issues, so this scholarship means the world to me because I don’t have to be a financial burden on my parents,” Smith said.
These scholarship funds were raised from the annual “Swings For The Sox” golf tournament, held each fall in Southwest Florida.
“The Red Sox and the Red Sox Foundation have committed to being a part of the Southwest Florida community on a year-round basis. And with that commitment comes the responsibility to help others whenever and wherever we can,” said Brennan Whitley, senior manager of Florida Business Operations for the Boston Red Sox.
Over the past six years, over $300,000 has been awarded to local non-profits and scholarships from tournament proceeds.
“Seven years ago we created the Swings For The Sox charity golf tournament where we have raised over $330,000 for charities in this community. Four years ago we created the Red Sox Scholarship program where we now give a $5,000 scholarship to one student from each of the 13 public high schools in Lee County in hopes that this will help them continue their dream of higher education,” Whitley said.
The full list of scholarship recipients are:
n Zachary Kashman – Cape Coral High School
n Reynoso Cecilia – East Lee County High School
n Mackenzie Evey – Island Coast High School
n Madison Smith – Mariner High School
n Julian Montoya-Beoya – North Fort Myers High School
n Christine Lam – South Fort Myers High School
n Alexus Lawler – Estero High School
n Andrea Cornell – Cypress Lake High School
n Megan Sanzetenea – Ida Baker High School
n Daphnee De Leon – Lehigh Senior High School
n Kamari Walker – Dunbar High School
n Natwayn Altema -Riverdale High School
n Kennan Beck – Fort Myers High School
For Kashman, this scholarship came as a surprise to the soon-to-be University of Florida student, as he pursues his dream to become an attorney.
“Well, it’s an incredible opportunity. I was so excited to get it,” he said. “I applied for it — I honestly didn’t think I was going to get it, and I’m very very happy that I did. It’s an incredible opportunity and they do so much for us here.”
The day is one he won’t soon forget.
“It was very surreal. I was just trying to absorb and take everything in one step at a time. It was awesome,” he said of the pre-game ceremony.
Island Coast High School senior and Florida International University prospect Mackenzie Evey said the day represented all of the hard work students across the county put in each and every year.
“Today is a great way to show that we work hard. This is, I feel like, a great opportunity,” she said. “I never would’ve imagined myself standing on a Red Sox field. That just means everything to me — even though I’m not really big with baseball, but just to get the opportunity is amazing.”
Evey will study criminal law at FIU, and is thankful for the Red Sox Foundation for giving her a leg-up financially heading into her college career.
“It’s been amazing. It’s been easy It’s been a dream,” she said of her involvement with the foundation. “I wish everybody would communicate the way they did.”
She hopes to pay her own way through school, an admirable feat in itself, and is nothing but thankful when it comes to the support she’s received from the Red Sox.
“It’s going to help because I plan to pay for college by myself. I don’t want the burden to be on my parents. I’m going to learn responsibility. It takes a lot of stress off knowing that I have a back-up and that I have some money right now,” Evey said.
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