LOXAHATCHEE, Fla. - Chelsey Taylor identified with giraffes all her life. Because of her height, one of her best friends even nicknamed her 'giraffe.' And she loved the tall creatures.
"My daughter was very tall from birth, she was 22 inches long when she was born she was always ahead of everyone on the chart," her mother Debbie Taylor said.
Chelsey was diagnosed with leukemia in 2012. Her friends and family rallied to support her and called themselves 'Team Chelsey.'
"She was doing well, she was excited to start her senior year with her friends. The chemotherapy did a number on her body and everything started to go wrong and she passed away November 26, 2012."
20 months later, Team Chelsey learned Lion Country Safari had a contest to pick a Swahili name for their new baby giraffe, and the team started voting.
Since there was no Swahili translation for Chesley, the group chose the one that fit Chelsey's personality.
"When we got to the park we were told that Niara was the name that was chosen that was number A and it means of great purpose or with greater purpose and that to me embodies Chelsey's spirit."
When Lion Country Safari heard about Chelsey's story, it invited the family and friends in for a VIP tour and made a donation in Chelsey's honor to St. Baldrick's Foundation for children's cancer.
"It really meant a lot to me that they saw that something from a simple contest online could turn into a whole park talking about this special little girl and what she meant to a team."
Chelsey's memory will live on with the new baby giraffe, and Team Chelsey will live on to fulfill its greater purpose.
"Now we're focused on other kids going through this, other kids we want to research and so they don't have to go through this, they can finish high school and they can go on and become adults."
If you want to join Team Chelsey, Join their Facebook page: TEAM CHELSEY .