Eli Mollineaux's parents didn't think he would ever play sports, because he wasn't supposed to live to be older than five years old.
On Saturday, 14-year-old Eli scored a touchdown for his high school football team.
With a smile on his face and cheering Huntington High School football players running alongside his wheelchair, Eli scored a touchdown at the beginning of the third quarter of the game between Huntington and Smithtown West in a celebration honoring the young man the school principal calls "a hero in our community."
Eli was diagnosed with Pearson Syndrome—a rare mitochondrial disease that develops into Kearns-Sayre Syndrome in children who survive infancy—when he was one year old, and his parents were told his life expectancy was between three and five years. Today, the disease affects Eli's vision, hearing, cognitive function, muscular function, mobility and cardiac conduction, according to the Eli Mollineaux Fund Facebook page, but that hasn't stopped him from making friends and taking part in quintessential high school activities.
"It's overwhelming when people come up to me, who I've never met before, and tell me a story about how Eli has affected them and given them strength," his mom, Ellen, said.
Watch the full video on Eli and his inspirational journey above.
Thumbnail photo courtesy of Philip M. Orlando and Michael A. Orlando.
– Erin Flynn