Tetra: One Student’s Dream Turned Reality
When Bret Pontillo finished his first THON last year, he wondered if there was a better way to get involved. Pontillo wanted to be a part of something big, but strove for something of his own. So he did what anyone would do in that situation: He sought help.
On February 21, 2014, only four days after THON 2013, Pontillo set the wheels in motion. He, along with Jessica McCarter, met with Paul Suhey, former President of Apollo. Two hours later, Bret and Jessica left with an understanding of what it would take to create a successful Special Interest Organization. They now had the basis for what would eventually become one of THON’s newest Special Interest Organizations, Tetra.
Two weeks later, Pontillo lost one of his grandfathers to Pancreatic Cancer. What would be considered a serious roadblock to most people became Bret’s inspiration. He was all in on this crazy idea, yet he was only a freshman.
Right away, he started reaching out to other special interest organizations. He met with the leaders of Atlas, Ohana, Springfield, Pillar, Boulevard, and always had a line to Suhey and Apollo, of course. They were going to do this together as a team, not competitors.
With the help of his existing group of friends and new confidants, Pontillo was ready to push forward with his dream. He began by recruiting others to the new organization and ended up with a solid, core group of members. Right away, they started fundraising for their first THON. When it was all said and done, they ended up with more than $42,000 before THON Weekend even began. This gave Tetra the opportunity to have not one, but two dancers in its first THON. Naturally, Bret was the org’s first choice for the job so he, along with J.T. Cartwright, are the first two dancers in the short history of Tetra. This all came after Pontillo lost his other grandfather to Bladder Cancer over Winter Break, so the news was bittersweet.
“I don’t want to see anyone suffer anymore,” said Pontillo. “I think that there is nothing more special than to be able to dance for the kids and for those lost.”
The money they raised in their first year of existence also allowed them the opportunity to be assigned a Four Diamonds Family, the Ashley Otstott Family. Ashley was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia in 2001 at age 4, has been off treatment for ten years, and is officially cancer-free. Tetra is grateful to have her and they hope to have more families to support soon.
As for Pontillo, he is grateful for all of the help that he received along the way.
“I continually thank everyone for the help, but they never accept it. They are the reason we are what we are today.”