February 8, 2018 at 11:55 AM
The 2018 Gerber baby was just named, and he is Lucas Warren, the first child with Down syndrome to receive the honor of, essentially, America’s cutest baby.
The 18-month-old from Dalton, Ga., was selected as “2018 Gerber Spokesbaby” from more than 140,000 photos submitted by parents.
His mother, Cortney Warren, entered Lucas in the contest when Lucas’ great-aunt mentioned that Gerber put out its annual call for adorable babies. Warren posted a photo of Lucas sporting a polka dot bow tie and an open-mouthed grin on Instagram and tagged Gerber. She had dressed him up for his first Sunday church service.
It was Lucas’s smile that won him the iconic contest, said Bill Partyka, chief executive and president of Gerber
“Every year, we choose the baby who best exemplifies Gerber’s long-standing heritage of recognizing that every baby is a Gerber baby,” Partyka said. “This year, Lucas is the perfect fit.”
The Warrens win a $50,000 prize, and in addition to Lucas’s new title, he will be featured on Gerber’s social media channels throughout the year. He is the eighth winner of the Gerber Baby Photo Search.
Other parents, especially those who have children with Down syndrome, celebrated.
“In a puddle of tears over here…my mama heart is so so thankful…when Bodie was born I believed a lie, that others would not value him as much as I do. But, today is a new day. It is such a beautiful, good day,” wrote samanthajob on Instagram.
Instagram user nicki_bloms wrote: “As a mama currently carrying a cutie with an extra chromosome this made my day!!! Thank you Gerber!! ”
Lucas’s mother said she was totally floored that Lucas won. She has heard from people all over the world who are congratulating Lucas, and telling her that his smile is warming a lot of hearts.
She said in his new position, she hopes Lucas will bring more understanding for people with conditions such as Down syndrome.
“We know Gerber chose him because of his cuteness, but it also is spreading awareness of acceptance of people with disabilities of all kinds,” she said. “No matter if we have a disability or not, we’re all just humans.”
His father, Jason Warren, said he thinks Lucas is a pretty good role model.
“We hope this will help people kick-start their own lives and give them more confidence,” he said. “They might think that if Lucas can do this, what can I do in my own life?”
Cortney Warren said she is excited for the honor, but she wants her son to be recognized as the funny, outgoing, music-loving child he is. He is the kind of kid, she said, who senses if someone is upset, and will go over and deliver “a big, old sloppy kiss.”
“He may have Down syndrome, but he’s always Lucas first,” she said.
As for Lucas, his parents said he’s definitely up for the task of spokesbaby, even if he has no idea about his sudden celebrity.
“They only thing he knows is there’s more people waving at him,” his dad said. “And he has to wave back.”