More than 140,000 parents submitted pictures of their adorable little ones for the annual “Gerber Baby Photo Contest” this year, but it was ultimately one lucky little boy from Dalton, Georgia, who earned the title.
On February 7, Gerber Products Company, which is owned by Nestlé, announced that 1-year-old Lucas Warren would officially act as 2018’s spokesbaby, as Dearly previously reported.
His adorable smile and sparkling eyes made him the perfect choice for the role. And he has something extra special about him that made his title of “Gerber Baby” historic.
Lucas is the first spokesbaby to have Down syndrome.Gerber/Facebook
Many applauded the company’s decision to choose Lucas, but some slammed the choice as a marketing move, according to People.
Some Twitter users pointed to the fact that Gerber Life allegedly denied insurance polcies to children with Down syndrome due to “life expectancy.” One parent wrote:
@GerberLife has denied thousands of parents and children with Down Syndrome the right and ability to secure themselves with life insurance with denial letters stating “Due to Life expectancy”. I know as WE were denied. pic.twitter.com/erv27nBboW
— Bronx137 (@Robster151) February 7, 2018
Business Insider reports that a Nestlé spokesperson responded in a statement that decisions on insurance policies “consider each child’s unique situation” and said that they do cover children with disabilities, “including children with Down syndrome.”
Despite the negativity following the reveal, little Lucas’ parents seem thrilled that their son was chosen.Chuck Payne/Facebook
They told People that they hope the choice will help raise awareness for Down syndrome and hopefully encourage other parents who have children with the condition.
The dad, Jason, said:
“There are a lot of families out there who’ve become frightened or afraid because they don’t know. We’re hoping they can see Lucas and just get a glimpse of what all their child can do.”
Jason added that Lucas loves meeting new people and has been soaking up all the positive attention. He told People:
“Who knew our child was going to touch so many people and make that many people smile. We’re loving what everybody is saying about our little boy. Lucas is loving it—he’s loving all these new people he gets to wave at.”
The family took home a $50,000 cash prize, but more importantly — they’re helping pave the way for children with disabilities in the future.