One-year-old Lucas of Dalton, Georgia has been named 2018’s Gerber Baby and it’s no wonder. He’s absolutely gorgeous, with a smile that dares you not to smile back, cheeks for days, and ohmygod, that bow-tie!
Lucas also happens to have Down Syndrome.
Since 2010, Gerber has run an annual nation-wide contest to discover the next Gerber baby. The past years’ winners have been a diverse group, from a variety of different ethnic backgrounds and ages, even a set of twins. But this year’s winner marks a new milestone for the company and they couldn’t have chosen a better spokesbaby.
According to a statement, Gerber President and CEO Bill Partyka revealed what made Lucas stand out from his fellow 140,000 applicants:
“Lucas’ winning smile and joyful expression won our hearts this year, and we are all thrilled to name him our 2018 Spokesbaby.”
Partyka went on to say, “Every year, we choose the baby who best exemplifies Gerber’s longstanding heritage of recognizing that every baby is a Gerber baby, and this year, Lucas is the perfect fit.”
Lucas’ mother, Cortney Warren, submitted his photo to the online contest on a whim. When she found out Lucas had won, her first reaction was one of shock and disbelief. For her and her husband Jason Warren, their son’s win means so much more than his face being featured on Gerber’s social media and the cash prize of $50,000.
In an interview with the Today Show, Cortney says, “I hope it shines light to the special needs community, showing that, you know, they are just like you and me. They should be accepted, not based on their look but based on who they are.”
A dear friend of mine has a daughter with Down Syndrome. She is such an amazing light to all that she comes in contact with. When she was born, her parents vowed that they would focus on who she is, not what she has.
She is love in all its beauty.
She is laughter in all its joy.
She is inspiration in all its glory.
She is courage in all its strength.
And she is not alone in this.
Jason Warren believes that his son, and all people with special needs, should not be defined by limitations. “They have the potential to change the world, just like everybody else.”
To this I would just like to give a standing O.
Gerber has taken a giant leap in recognizing their ability to help change people’s perceptions of children with disabilities. By choosing Lucas as their spokesbaby, not only are they helping to break down prejudices, but they are also proving that we are finally moving in the right direction where inclusion is concerned.
But please don’t just see Lucas as the face of Down Syndrome. See him for who he truly is. A fun-loving, piano-playing, happy child, who makes friends of all he meets. A child, like yours and mine, who also just happens to have Down Syndrome.