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Chicago Football Classic doesn't take field this year, but it does give dozens of students scholarships to HBCUs

Chicago Football Classic awards $250,000 in college scholarships
Chicago Football Classic awards $250,000 in college scholarships 02:02

CHICAGO (CBS) -- A Chicago football tradition has been called off this year due to COVID concerns, but it is still helping students foot the bill for college.

As CBS 2's Jermont Terry reported, the nonprofit Chicago Football Classic is awarding $250,000 in scholarships to Chicago area teens who really need the hand up.

For 25 years, the Chicago Football Classic has brought some of the best Historically Black Colleges and Universities' football teams to Soldier Field.

Bit this year, due to the uncertainty of COVID, the HBCU teams won't play.

"We couldn't let COVID slow us down," said Everett Rand, cofounder of the Chicago Football Classic. "We still did something."

Everett Rand, Larry Huggins, and Tim Rand brought the classic to Chicago in 1997.

"We've got to grow our communities, and the only way we can grow our community is through self-help," Everett Rand said.

But while there will be no touchdown passes or marching band battles this year, the Chicago Football Classic is doing something just as big at Soldier Field.

Dozens of Chicago aera college freshmen were awarded a $5,000 scholarship to attend an HBCU at an event where Mayor Lori Lightfoot was present.

One of those students was Malik Lindsey, Colisha Cobbs got emotional seeing her son's image on the screen.

"To see him up here getting this scholarship, I'm overjoyed," Cobbs said.

Earlier this month, Lindsey and his mom drove from south suburban Hazel Crest to Wilberforce College in Ohio. At the time, Lindsey did not have the scholarship – but he had plenty of out-of-pocket expenses.

"That $5,000 cleared everything out, so now he's going to school, first year, absolutely free," Cobbs said. "That $5,000 was right on time. We absolutely needed that."

The scholarship dinner comes around when all the students already off to college – so their parents step in to pick up the scholarship checks and new laptops.

"There's no better person to receive this award on my behalf other than my mom," Lindsey said.

Through FaceTime, Lindsey said he is thankful the Chicago Football Classic is stepping up when times are hard. Now, with the worry of paying for school eliminated, he can focus solely on academics.

"Honestly, words can't even describe," Lindsey said via Facetime. "This is an opportunity that many don't enjoy or even have - so I'm in awe."

We wish Malik Lindsey and all the recipients the best of luck in college. As for the Football Classic, it returns to Soldier Field next year – and so will the scholarships.

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