Eli Mollineaux will always be remembered at Huntington High School and in the community for being an inspirational young man who took on many considerable challenges with steadfast 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 just 15 years old.
Huntington's Eli Mollineaux will always be remembered
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 presented to graduating Huntington seniors.
This year the bELIeve Project presented Eli Mollineaux Memorial Scholarship Awards in the amount of $1,000 each Huntington High School Class of 2020 members Holly Wright (SUNY College at Cortlan), Shyann Maragh (University of Pittsburgh) and Julien Rentsch (Northwestern University.
The three teenagers were selected on the basis of their “exceptional community involvement, volunteerism and positive outlook,” Mrs. Messina said. “These three students are very goal oriented, but more importantly, they continually help lift up others around them.”
Ms. Wright raises money for juvenile diabetes and cancer research. She ran a basketball clinic for young girls and she taught soccer to children with autism.
Ms. Maragh has volunteered at Huntington Hospital and at soup kitchens. She interned at Mount Sinai School of Medicine and with the Huntington Breast Cancer Action Coalition.
Mr. Rentsch provided free piano lessons to children at the Tri-CYA and he plays piano for adults at nursing homes.
“The Class of 2020 is the last group of students who attended Huntington High School with Eli, making this award so meaningful to each of them,” Mrs. Messina said. “All three of these recipients have special memories that they shared with Eli. They watched Eli score a touchdown from his wheelchair, shared an art class or got smiles and a hug from him. These three live their lives like Eli, bringing joy, kindness and compassion to others every single day!”
The bELIeve Project raises funds at the annual March Madness basketball game that pits faculty and staff teams from the high school and Woodhull battling each other before packed bleachers. Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic and the school closures that followed, prevented the 2020 game from being held.
“I truly believe in my heart that Eli would have been so proud to know that Holly, Shyann and Julien were the 2020 recipients of this award,” Mrs. Messina said.
Eli Mollineaux Memorial Scholarship Recipients
2017 Allyson Arleo, Charles Ehrman, Nicholas Lanzisero
2018 Luke Eidle, Alex LaBella, Rachel Moss, Jamie Spector
2019 Julia Aureliano, Katherine Burton, Christopher Engle, Natalie Gonzalez, Meagan Malone, Ilsi Martinez Euceda, Noah Morris, Jeraine Nieves-Morales, Edgar Rivas Lizama, Samuel Roberts, Casey Smith, Phoebe Walther, Jenna Yabroudy
2020 Holly Wright, Shyann Maragh, Julien Rentsch