For the first time ever, Gerber has chosen a baby with Down syndrome to be its “spokesbaby” of the year.
His name is Lucas, and he’s from Dalton, Georgia.
In the last eight years, Gerber has opened up an online photo contest where people can submit images of their babies with the hopes of being named the Gerber baby of the year. Lucas’ mom, Cortney Warren, told Today that she submitted a smiling photo of Lucas after a relative suggested she should.
Out of more than 140,000 entries, that photo caught the attention of Gerber.
“Lucas’ winning smile and joyful expression won our hearts this year, and we are all thrilled to name him our 2018 Spokesbaby,” Gerber President and CEO Bill Partyka said in statement, according to Time. “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.”
The news was announced on the “Today” show on Wednesday morning, when Lucas was officially declared 2018’s Gerber baby.
So what’s next for Lucas? The “Today” show reported that along with receiving $50,000, he will also be promoted on Gerber’s social media throughout the year.
Gerber already featured him on an Instagram post.
Carmen Penney, president of the Chattanooga Down Syndrome Society, told WTVC that “we are thrilled to hear Gerber chose one of our own to represent their iconic brand this year!”
“In a conversation with Nestle this week, I was so excited to hear Lucas would be treated just like all their other spokesbabies,” Penney said. “This is what we strive — true acceptance, not just tolerance. We thank the Warren family and Gerber for promoting awareness and inclusion by sharing Lucas with the world!”
Down syndrome is a genetic condition that causes delays in physical and intellectual development, according to the National Association for Down Syndrome.
Around 1 in 700 babies are born with Down syndrome in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That’s about 6,000 each year.