Eli Mollineaux will always be remembered at Huntington High School and in the community. The exceptional young man was an inspiration to his teachers, classmates and family, shouldering all of his many challenges with unwavering determination and hope.
The teenager passed away in October 2016 after a lifelong battle against Pearson’s Syndrome, a rare disease triggered by a mutation in the mitochondrial DNA. Mr. Mollineaux was only 15 years old.
Following his tragic passing, Mr. Mollineaux’s family and Ilene Messina, a teacher aide in the district who worked with him for many years, created the bELIeve Project, which sponsors annual scholarships and awards that are presented to graduating Huntington seniors.
“Eli Mollineaux was an inspiration to everyone he met,” said Mrs. Messina at this year’s senior academic scholarship awards ceremony. “Kind, compassionate, always smiling, Eli lived every moment of his life to fullest. Tonight, Ellen Mollineaux and I take great pride in awarding the Eli Mollineaux Memorial Scholarship to exceptional Huntington seniors who live their lives like Eli, bringing joy, kindness and compassion to others every single day.”
This year the bELIeve Project presented the Eli Mollineaux Memorial Scholarship Award in the amount of $1,000 to Huntington High School Class of 2022 member Ryan Porzio (Washington and Lee University) and twin $500 Eli Mollineaux Spirt Awards to graduating seniors and sisters, Emily Roberts (University of Pennsylvania) and Hannah Roberts (University of Vermont).
“One teacher had this to say about Ryan Porzio: ‘He just might be the most empathetic and kind-hearted student that I have had the pleasure of teaching,’” Mrs. Messina told the crowd. “‘He will not say a bad word about anyone; it’s not in his nature. His moral compass always guides him to do and say the right thing at all times, even when no one is looking or listening. In this way, his resemblance to Eli is uncanny. He is not just nice and agreeable; he is truly kind and loving at this very core.’”
The Roberts’ were described as “humble, kind, courageous and compassionate,” by Mrs. Messina. “These two young women are extremely well respected by their teachers and peers. They have spent countless hours volunteering throughout the Huntington community and have been a great support to their family. They have both suffered immeasurable heartache and yet they continue to stay positive and lift others up around them. Just like Eli, they do not allow their hardships to define them.”
Since creation of the Eli Mollineaux Memorial Scholarship, more than $27,000 has be awarded to Huntington seniors.