Ian Sun/Courtesy Photo

Zeta Beta Tau (ZBT) fraternity has donated money raised through its annual “Get on the Ball” philanthropy event to the Cota family since 4-year-old Mateo Cota was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia in September 2013.

“Get on the Ball” is a weeklong event from May 23-27. During the week, participants sign a 7-foot inflatable ball on Dexter Lawn in support of Team Mateo. Sponsors for “Get on the Ball” will donate a certain amount of money for every signature gathered.

Though ZBT’s national philanthropy raises funds for Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals, the Cal Poly chapter received a special exception so its fundraisers could solely benefit Mateo and the Cota family.

Mateo’s mom, Erika Cota, has been working as a housing human resources analyst at Cal Poly for 21 years and previously worked with the greek life office.

Working with student life and leadership at Cal Poly, Cota formed relationships with several ZBT members through the years. She said when Mateo was diagnosed three years ago, ZBT did not hesitate to help.

Aside from supporting the Cotas financially, ZBT members interact with Mateo often, holding playdates and taking him to the beach or to lunch. ZBT members even cheer on Mateo’s older brother, Diego, at his baseball games.

Cota said she and her husband can trust ZBT like family and know that they can count on the fraternity for anything, anytime.

“There’s not too many people we trust,” Cota said. “But we don’t even think twice when they take (Mateo).”

ZBT’s philanthropy chair and industrial engineering freshman Ian Sun said for him, working with the Cota family means so much more than only raising money for a national philanthropy.

“There’s just a face to it now,” Sun said. “I know how Mateo is as a kid and how awesome his family is. It just makes it that much more worthwhile to go out and do something for someone. We have such a unique opportunity to touch someone’s life.”

On May 12, ZBT and Jack’s Helping Hand were awarded Cal Poly President’s Community Service Award for Outstanding Community Collaboration.

Jack’s Helping Hand assists children with cancer and special needs who have unmet physical, mental and medical needs in the community. The Cota family also receives financial and emotional support from Jack’s Helping Hand for Mateo’s cancer.

Mateo’s end date for treatment is scheduled for Dec. 23, 2016. Though he is still going through treatment, Mateo is lively as ever.

To donate to “Team Mateo,” visit http://www.zbtgotb.com.

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