A 4-Year Old Girl with Cancer Inspires a Chapter

On January 30, 2016, the brothers of CA Epsilon (UCLA) celebrated a rechartering ceremony to bring the chapter back to the University of California-Los Angeles. Despite all of the work required to pull off an event of such magnitude, the brothers of CA Epsilon added one extra task to their list the weeks prior to the ceremony: they forever changed the life of a young girl named Brylee Joy Cadamy.

The Talbert Family Foundation

On October 15, 2015, Brylee Joy Cadamy was diagnosed with Stage IV Rhabdomyosarcoma Cancer. When it was found that the cancer was in the bottom of her brain, nasal cavity, left ear, and lungs, it utterly devastated the family. Chemotherapy, transportation, and insurance costs were piling up and it became very difficult for the family to cover the costs, adding to the difficulty of the situation. The Talbert Family Foundation stepped in to help raise the money necessary to assist Brylee and her family. The Foundation is coordinated by Lloyd Talbert (UCLA '78) and his wife, Julie.

Brother Talbert was initiated into the Fraternity the same year as House Corporation Vice President, Dan Cislo (UCLA '78). Dan served as legal counsel for Talbert's company and after a conversation one evening, Talbert suggested that working with young Brylee might be a great opportunity for the men of the then-colony.

"The very reason I decided to become involved with resurrecting CA Epsilon was to see teenage boys become men of distinction and honor. It was Brother Talbert's idea to offer the brothers an opportunity to do something really special," said Cislo.

As soon as the men of CA Epsilon heard the news of Brylee's last round of radiation, they immediately wanted to get involved. From the onset, her courage seemed too inspiring to pass up.

"As the Public Relations chairman for the Fraternity, I enlisted the help of Jared Aguayo and Jason Hibono to plan out a visit with her," said Eli Jaffe (UCLA '16). "Phi Psi is a brotherhood dedicated to honorable and selfless conduct toward those around you. Brylee and her family were thrust into an extremely difficult situation, and the brothers in the chapter were just hoping to bring a little extra joy on her big day."

During their time with Brylee, members of the chapter sang a song, danced with her, dropped off a series of gifts, took photos, and told jokes. One of the brothers even gave Brylee a music box from Japan that plays 'When You Wish Upon a Star' with a cat on the front (Brylee's favorite animal).

"My experience visiting Brylee was profound. The video cannot come close to capturing the energy and vibrancy that Brylee brings to every situation. Her ability to not only endure what she has at such a young age, but also to come out the other side with so much optimism and positivity left me awestruck," said Jaffe.

Following the initial visit, the chapter has decided to continue supporting Brylee in her fight against cancer. Brylee, her mother, and Julie Talbert are attending the chapter meeting on February 22 and will have a discussion with the men about the Talbert Foundation and its continued work to support survivors. Additionally, the chapter is taking extra steps to make sure Brylee continues to be #1 in their hearts.

"We decided to officially declare Brylee as our first Phi Psi Sweetheart and include her on our next composite. We really want to be involved long-term in her treatment and recovery," said Kanav Saraf (UCLA '16).

The Real Essence of Service

The Great Joy of Serving Others is not about stockpiling community service hours; it's not about sending the biggest group to another fraternity or sorority's competitive philanthropy event. The real joy of serving others is when you identify a person or group of people in need and do everything in your power to provide the support necessary to affect real change. #Bruins4Brylee is a great example of how members of Phi Kappa Psi recognized their obligation to brighten the life of a young girl who has shouldered the kind of pain (at 4 years old) that most of us can never imagine.

Far too often, brothers stand behind a cause without any explicit knowledge of who they are helping. Far too often, we never see the faces of those receiving our support. The Brothers of CA Epsilon broke the mold by standing behind the courage and inspiration of young Brylee Joy.

Supporting Brylee's Fund

Donations can still be made to Brylee's Fund. The Talbert Family Foundation will match the first $5,000 raised in this fund and has provided a $5,000 honorarium as well. Once these funds have been matched, the next $5,000 will also be matched by an anonymous donor.