Lucas Warren, an 18-month-old with Down Syndrome and a contagious smile, has been chosen by Gerber to represent its brand this 2018.
The annual search for the Gerber "spokesbaby" is a modern version of a logo competition that the baby food company started in 1928. People were invited to submit portraits of baby faces and among them, a charcoal sketch made by Dorothy Hope Smith was selected as the winner. Her drawing is still used as the logo on all Gerber products.
In this year's search, more than 140,000 entries were sent in and Gerber made a decision that it has never done before. The company's president and chief executive Bill Partyka says that Gerber chooses the baby who best embodies its long history of recognizing that any kind of baby is still a Gerber baby, emphasizing that Lucas is the "perfect" candidate.
As the new "spokesbaby," Lucas's image will appear on all of the company's advertising campaigns this year. His parents are also receiving a cash prize of $50,000.
The Struggle With Society's View Of Down Syndrome
Gerber is expecting that this selection would help society accept those who are struggling with disabilities, most especially that some countries have already implemented severe policies on unborn babies that test positive for Down Syndrome.
Two years ago, Denmark announced that 98 percent of unborn babies that tested positive for the disability was aborted. In 2016, only four children with Down Syndrome were born in the country.
Iceland adopted the similar policy. Last year, it also announced that it has almost completely eradicated the Down Syndrome birth rate in the nation also through abortion.
Mary Vought, a contributing writer at the Washington Examiner, considers both news devastating as it sends a wrong message to those with disabilities that in order to fit in, they must conform to society's concept of "normal."
In a report, she thanked the company for giving a "special boy" a very special opportunity and for proving that each person is still worthy even when struggling with a disability.
Meet The Parents Of Lucas Warren
After a family member showed her an ad from Gerber indicating its search for a new spokesbaby, Lucas's mother Cortney posted a photo of her baby on Instagram with the competition's hashtag. Eventually, she and her husband were contacted about their son's win.
"We're hoping this will impact everyone ౼ that it will shed a little bit of light on the special needs community and help more individuals with special needs be accepted and not limited," shares Lucas's father Jason. "They have the potential to change the world, just like everybody else."
Moreover, Cortney does not want Lucas to be seen only for his disability. She pointed out that he is also a funny and energetic child, with a love for music and making others laugh.