Days for DefIANt event set for Nov. 13


Chloe Palmiere, News Editor

North East Community Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to assisting donors in benefiting their communities.

The DefIANt Scholars Program is a scholarship targeted specifically for Erie County students with physical and or intellectual disabilities who are looking to pursue higher education after high school.

This scholarship was created by Ian Malesiewski, a former wrestler and C4-quadriplegic who works to help members of the disability community to continue their education with less financial issues. Not many people who are disabled are offered this type of scholarship money, so Malesiewski knew this would be the best way to start locally.

Nick Carneval, a senior finance major and one of Malesiewski’s best friends, has been supporting the scholarship and his best friend since the very beginning.

“I am so passionate about this fundraiser because my best friend, Ian Malesiewski, began it in summer of 2020, exactly five years after he sustained a spinal cord injury from a wrestling accident, leaving him disabled,” Carneval said.

According to Carneval, Malesiewski got a handful of financial assistance and scholarships from not only his academic merit, but everything he has done. This includes creating this scholarship and overcoming his disability.

“He wants to do the same for other kids in his situation, and I am more than happy and grateful to be a part of it,” Carneval said.

The fundraiser for the DefIANt Scholars Program is set to take place from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 13, at Molly Brannigan’s Irish Pub, located at 506 State St. in downtown Erie.

A portion of the proceeds that will be collected during these two hours will be donated to the scholarship, and green “DefIANt” wristbands can also be purchased for $5.

This will be a post-walk celebration after a group of Gannon students, members of Gannon’s Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity (PIKE), and Erie County residents will partake in a 36-mile Walk-A-Thon.

The walk will start in downtown Erie and reach North East before heading back to downtown.

“The whole point of the walk was because when we did it last year it ended up being so hard despite how easy it sounds to just simply “walk.” We were aching after that, especially because we did not train for it.” Carneval said. “However, it is something that many people just take for granted because it is a part of lots of our daily lives, but it is much different for members of the disability community.”

As posted on the Pike fraternity social media, every $50 that is personally donated will serve as a sponsorship at each mile that will advertise during the walk along with social media recognition.

What this fundraiser is all about is focusing on spreading awareness about the disability community and spreading the word about what exactly the DefIANt scholarship.

While this is a relatively new scholarship and fundraising program, it was very successful last year. Many people from the Gannon community and the Erie community at large came out and participated and donated to the scholarship cause.

For those unable to attend this year’s Walk-A-Thon, there are other ways to help the DefIANt Scholarship Program.

Those interested in helping financially can donate virtually at: or make a check payable to “Pi Kappa Alpha” with the description labeled “Defiant Scholarship” and send to: North East Community Foundation, PO Box 327, North East, PA 16428.


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