by Madeline Murchake

By Maddie Murchake 

Joyce was not only Zeta Tau Alpha’s and Alpha Tau Omega’s THON child, but our best friend. Joyce was a fun-loving, hilarious, and sarcastic kid. Her nickname was “Lil Drippy God”, and the Zetaus family was her “Lil Drippy Squad”. She loved to sing, rap, and freestyle. When Joyce wasn’t rapping, she was found with a Kedama in her hand. It was her favorite toy to play with, and she always challenged our fellow Zetaus family members to friendly Kendama competitions. She always put a smile on the face of every Zetaus family member she spoke to, and never let her cancer define her. Joyce was diagnosed with stage 4 Ewing Sarcoma in her right calf muscle in August, 2016. She went through treatment, beat it, and went into remission. In February of 2017, Joyce relapsed and the doctors were forced to amputate her leg. She continued to fight everyday of her life with the biggest smile, the most positive attitude, and of course, the best rapping and singing. Joyce gained her angel wings on January 30th, 2020. Since then, there has never been a day when Joyce hasn’t been in the hearts and minds of the Zetaus family.  

Shortly after Joyce’s passing, ATO and ZTA members gathered at the ATO house to honor and celebrate the incredible life Joyce led. We sat together as we reminisced and told stories of special moments we shared with our beautiful angel. I speak for everyone when I say Joyce left a great impact on all of our lives, and the stories told that night only scraped the surface on Joyce’s personality. We wrote letters to her on candle bagsand spread them across the perimeter of ATO’s lawn. Holding hands, we leaned on each other and sang some of Joyce’s favorite songs. “Somewhere over the Rainbow” by Israel Kamakawiwo’ole was one of our favorites. This is a moment I will never forget. The support, mourning, and unity I felt in those 4 minutes during that song is indescribable. It was an energy shared among all of us, and unified us more than ever. November 12th, 2020, was Joyce’s 19th birthday. The Zetaus family gathered at Penn State’s Arboretum for a balloon release. We wrote letters to Joyce, expressing our love and thoughts, and tied the letters to balloon strings. Our THON chairs shared a few words to celebrate Joyce and the life she led, before we released the balloons into the sky. At the balloon release, we all wore our matching “Lil Drippy Squad” shirts, to honor our angel.  

The Zetaus family dances for our THON kids, as well as every other child and family who have been impacted by childhood cancer. The Zetaus family raised $291,081.06 for THON 2020, and has been the top Greek fundraising organization for 25 years in a row! This year, for THON 2021, our eight ATO ZTA THON 2021 dancers are: Paige Phillips, Caitlin Brennan, RJ Ward, Chris Demme, Jeff Brna, Lauren Sabol, Michelle Laraia, and Chuck Myers. Our four IDC dancers are: Jamie Ratesic, Emma Clark, Ethan Bundy, and Giulia Biondi. We THON for more smiles, more birthdays, and more belly laughs. We THON for Joyce.  

In order to support or learn more about ZETAUS visit their Donor Drive pages linked below.

Zeta Tau Alpha Donor Drive:

Alpha Tau Omega Donor Drive: