Matka was surprised when she learned she was going to have a baby but very happy. Ironically, many friends and family members brought giraffe baby items to his shower even though she did choose a theme. James was born in the winter , a day after his sister Debbie's 15th birthday and this was not a coincidence. Year after year James's giraffe collection grew and Debbie purposely made sure giraffe's were added and she labeled every piece with the year and with the donor's name. They were to be close in so many ways. At the age of 3, James was diagnosed with Leukemia and had only a 10% chance of survival. James's one day decided to get a giraffe gold charm for his sister and she managed his giraffe collection. James became one of the only children to survive cancer in the early 1980"s and he became very sad after many of his childhood friends died of the disease. James became shy and unsure of the world but year after year went to the Tree of Hope at Roswell Park Cancer Institute. On one winter night a young girl stood in a giraffe suit advertizing the Giraffe's Society for young adults with cancer and invited James to join. Jame's family felt it was a sign from God. They learned about the young girl being diagnosed with cancer and learned that her Oncologist tagged it "Giraffe's Disease from kissing giraffes in Africa" to help her cope with the disese. They also learned that the girl had collected hundreds of giraffes as well. The story did not end there they became friends and a year later James proposed for marriage at the tree of hope. Six months later the Giraffe Wedding united James and Teresa Baker.
Teresa Baker, LMHC. is a Child/Family Therapist in New York State who works with children ages 3-18 as well as provides counseling for families.