Naomi Milliner

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Friends and Family

Some of Jake’s Family & Friends

group planting

“Jake was the one that gave me the drive to work with special needs children and to help them as much as Jake has helped me. Jake set his own milestones. I no longer look at anything a child does in the same light as I did before. He was here for a short time, but he changed so many people’s lives. He’s Super Jake – he taught everyone. His life was joyful.”
– Kristina, who has not only dedicated her life to helping special needs children; she also created much of the artwork in Jake’s Garden, including the handprint plaque and the butterfly mosaic.


“From the first day I met Jake, I was hooked. I needed my Jake fix. He made everything seem so real. His smile lit up the room. He warmed your heart.”
– Pam, Kristina’s mom, and one of the most compassionate people on the planet. Also a key player in creating, and maintaining, Jake’s Garden.


“Jake, you have taught many of us how to celebrate and notice the seemingly little things in life, that have become so significant. I thank you and celebrate the sweet little boy you are.”
– Sue, Jake’s vision therapist


Jeremy Trumpet “Since Jake was born, he was called a fighter – whether it was against waking up in time for a therapy session, or refusing to choke down the dread Poly-Vi-Sol. But most of the time, Jake’s considered a fighter because he rose above his disability, because he overcame the obstacles that were stacked against him. This is no doubt true, but let me tell you a lesser known account of Jake’s fighting ability. Jake wasn’t exactly legendary with his wrestling skills… but he should’ve been. We wrestled on the couch, and he won every time: weight and drool can be a deadly combination… One of the synonyms for fighter is champion. And, if that’s not Jake, nothing is.”
– Jeremy, Jake’s oldest brother. Jeremy wrote and delivered this speech at the dedication for Jake’s Garden.


“Jake was a butterfly whose happy heart brought beautiful colors to our world. Although he took flight too soon, his sweet smile will live upon our hearts forever.”
– Randy


“I never met little Jake. I wish I had. But I’ve heard so much about him over the years, he is part of my life. From what I understand, he was part of a lot of lives. For a little boy who couldn’t talk, or walk, or run, he made quite an impact.
Maybe it was because the thing he could do best was smile. It’s as if he were telling us, ‘I’m okay. Jesse GardenReally. And you’re going to be okay, too. And isn’t the world beautiful?’
I like to think Jake smiled because he saw and felt beauty the rest of us overlook: the sound of a paper crinkling, the taste of cotton candy, his mother’s voice reaching into his soul and making his world whole.
Jake left quite a legacy for a little guy who wasn’t with us long enough… I think he was saying, ‘You must accept everyone for who they are and love each person unconditionally. And I’m not leaving until you get it.’”
– Betty May, dear friend and fellow writer (excerpts from her speech)


“I’ve come to know Jake in the living love and fierce resolution of his mother, the sweet caring way his brothers look after each other and their parents, and in the considerate, gentle way Lee and Naomi support each other in so many things.
I see him in Jeremy whose music inspires and will inspire so many people, and in Jesse who has the courage to be the best actor he can be, when everyone else goes through the play – and life – merely mumbling their lines. Jake has taught them life is short, take your chance, and learn to soar.
This is the real Magic of Jake – his ability to come into each of our lives and join us, making us one giant extended family for his parents and brothers.
And Jake, I have to say, looking out at all the faces of people here who loved and love you still, I’m glad to have known you, after all.”
– Diana Belchase, Another close friend and award-winning author (excerpts)


As every mom and dad knows, the minute you become a parent, life as you know it is over. Instead, it becomes this crazy roller coaster of a ride, and all you can do is hold onto it, and your child, tight, and hope that you both come out of it safe and sound. The ups and downs come at lightning speed, and there are unexpected twists, turns, and surprises all along the way.
This was especially true when Jake showed up – he was definitely full of surprises…. The biggest surprise, though, was how easy he was to love, how little he demanded, and how much he gave. How, without once reaching out, he touched so many people, so many lives, so deeply. He couldn’t open a present – but he was the real gift.
– Naomi

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