• Dallas Zoo newborn giraffe named for cancer victim (and baby Bear) James

    James SikesIn October, Baylor grads Matthew (BA ’05, JD ’09) and Kara (BA ’05, MSED ’10) Sikes welcomed a little boy, James. He was healthy, everything went smoothly and all was well. Then in June, the almost-eight-month-old James started having some health problems. Within a month, an aggressive brain tumor had taken his life.

    That short statement, of course, doesn’t begin to sum up all that the Sikes went through over those few weeks, or the pain they have dealt with since then. The couple has kept an extraordinarily open blog running through all of this, sharing their thoughts and feelings, questions and doubts along the way. Reading even a few sentences of it brings tears to my eyes, without fail.

    In a heartwarming tribute, the Dallas Zoo has named a newly born baby giraffe “Jamie” in honor of James Sikes. You see, giraffes were James’ favorite animal; the Sikes have pictures of him visiting the animals at the zoo during the two trips he was able to make, as well as with giraffe blankets and stuffed animals during his hospital stay.

    After the giraffe was born, the zoo accepted submissions as to what she should be called. The Sikes’ family and friends (including many from the Baylor family who didn’t even know the couple) rallied to the cause, and in the final tallies, more than 70 percent of the 4,000-plus submissions were in James’ honor.

    The story is tragic, but it’s good to see the Dallas Zoo using an otherwise unimportant decision — what to name one of their animals — to honor a family that needs that touch right now. It’s also good to see the Baylor family moving to comfort one of its own in a time of need.

    On the blog, the couple wrote, “Since James died, events like this, the response to his fund, and a hundred other things remind us that we are not alone, that looking outside does not need to be a source of dread. Knowing that James lives on not only in our hearts but in so many others is a reminder that our grief, and our son, are not without purpose. … There is something more, a legacy that James left that exists beyond us. Thank you for that, and for Jamie. As always, thank you for your thoughts and prayers.”

    Once again, no “sic ’em” here — just a teary thank you to the Dallas Zoo and the Baylor family for honoring one of the littlest members of our Baylor family and stepping up in a time of need.

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