Eli Mollineaux will take the field near the start of the second half of Huntington High School’s football game this Saturday at home against Smithtown West and attempt to score a touchdown before what is expected to be a packed house at Blue Devil Stadium.
A Huntington sophomore, Mr. Mollineaux was honored last year by county officials who decreed September as Mitochondrial Disease Awareness Month in Suffolk. The teenager has been very public with his battle against the condition and his response to it has been inspirational to his classmates and the community at large.
“Eli continues to beat the odds and persevere through his challenges, bringing light wherever he goes,” Huntington Principal Brenden Cusack said. Kickoff for Saturday’s game is set for 1:30 p.m.
Mr. Mollineaux will be invited out onto the field prior to the beginning of the second half. The sophomore will participate in a play and attempt to score a ceremonial touchdown. The Huntington and Smithtown West football teams will line-up at the line of scrimmage for the snap.
“We expect a nice crowd to cheer him on as he is a hero in our community,” Mr. Cusack said. Young Leaders, a community based youth leadership development organization will present a plaque to Mr. Mollineaux and his family during a short ceremony. A generous special gift is also expected to be presented to the family.
“Eli is a special young man who is loved by all,” Huntington Superintendent James W. Polansky said. “His positive attitude and huge heart are infectious. There is a list of thousands who would volunteer to be his lead blocker as he crosses the goal line. I can’t wait to be there personally to cheer him on!”
The idea for Saturday’s special event was developed by Woodhull Intermediate School Assistant Principal Jarrett Stein, who shares a strong bond with Mr. Mollienaux. Mr. Stein worked with Huntington Director of Athletics Georgia Deren McCarthy and the Blue Devil football coaches and players and others to make the initiative happen.
“Eli is an extraordinary young man,” Mr. Stein said. “He truly is the rock star of Huntington. Personally, I’ve learned more from Eli than he could have ever learned from me. He’s taught us to live every day like it’s a gift. To be kind. To be happy. Or like we say at Woodhull, ‘to live every day like Eli.’ He’s an inspiration to his teachers and peers. He is my hero.”