Ball4Tris fund raises for cancer-stricken, altruistic St. Raymond alum

Tristan Dillon (c.) posesed with Justin Dillon (l.) and Steve Pierre Saint right at the Ball4Tris event at St. Raymond last weekend.
Photo by Laura Amato

Steve Pierre Saint had to do something.

Anything.

He couldn’t sit still. Not anymore

So, Pierre Saint made some calls. He cleared his schedule. He booked the gym and organized the first-ever “Ball4Tris” event last weekend at St. Raymond High School. It’s goal was to raise money for the medial bills of his former Ravens hoops teammate Tristan Dillon who had been diagnosed with colon cancer in May.

“Originally we wanted to bring everybody out, the alumni at St. Raymond’s and the original motive was like a reunion,” said Pierre Saint, who graduated from St. Ray’s in 2010. “Then we found out our brother was diagnosed with cancer, so this was an extra push for us and extra motivation to keep things pushing further.”

The event, held over two afternoons on July 25 and 26 brought together nearly 80 of the school’s basketball alumni and friends of Dillon. The event raised more than $1,300. Further help can be given through a GoFundMe account called Tristan’s Fight Against Cancer that is at close to $5,000.

There were trophies to be won and some glory to be claimed, but in the end, it was all about Dillon.

For his part, Dillon was more than a little overwhelmed by the entire weekend. The 22-year-old Bronx native called the four years he spent at St. Raymond the greatest of his life, adding that he was surprised by the turnout the event drew.

“I was very shocked, I didn’t think I deserved such a big honor like this,” Dillon said. “I didn’t think it was going to be this big. But I definitely thank God for the turnout.”

It hasn’t been an easy road for Dillon since his diagnosis.

He spends two and a half hours at Sloan Kettering Hospital for chemotherapy treatment every two weeks and goes home with a bag attached to his side for two more days to continue the treatment at home.

But still, he says cancer has not been his darkest moment. Instead, cancer has opened Dillon’s eyes to the world and he has also was compelled to do something just like Pierre Saint.

Dillon created his own non-profit organization, “No Battle Should Be Fought Alone,” shortly after he was diagnosed. It raises money for fellow patients who don’t have as much support as he does and donates to St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital and the American Cancer Society with the sale of custom-made t-shirts. They were able to be purchase at the Ball4Tris event.

“I would never say cancer is my lowest moment,” he said. “Cancer has kind of been my greatest moment. I know that might sound weird, but my vision was blurry to life and cancer definitely made me get 20/20 vision.”

There was, eventually, a tournament winner. This was, after all, a competition and it’s nearly impossible for former high school standouts to turn that off.

But it was also about more than that. It was about doing something.

“St. Raymond’s is very community oriented, family oriented. So I wasn’t surprised to see the people come out,” Pierre Saint said. “I’m pretty amazed. I’m proud of the family. I’m proud of Tristan. He’s just keeping the fight up.”

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