Beating out more than 140,000 entries, one-year-old Lucas Warren from Dalton, Georgia, is the first Gerber baby with Down syndrome. Bill Partyka, CEO and president of Gerber, said Lucas' smile and happy expression were factors in their decision to make Lucas the 2018 Gerber Spokesbaby — a contest that started in 2010.
Every year, we choose the baby who best exemplifies Gerber's longstanding heritage of recognizing that every baby is a Gerber baby. This year, Lucas is the perfect fit.
Here's the winning photo, submitted by mom Cortney Warren (be prepared to feel all gooey inside):
Twitter users fell in love with Lucas' contagious smile:
He is so magnificently adorable!!! Such a pure, natural smile.— Brirannosaurus Text (@redbuddhadojo) February 7, 2018
I am JELLY!!
I can't smile like that.
Look at that face ... I just want to squish those cheeks ... what a blessing they’ve been given ♥️— Dolores Weber (@DoloresWeber8) February 7, 2018
And many people were genuinely moved:
This definitely brought a tear to my eye, since we found out that our little fella has DS I've definitely worried about some of the things these parents have worried about, but the world & my little guy keep proving me wrong, can't wait for what lies ahead, thanks @GerberLife!— ᗷOᗷᗪᑌᑕKᑎᗯEᗩᐯE 🦆 (@BobDuckNWeave) February 7, 2018
Lucas's dad, Jason Warren, hopes Lucas' Gerber Baby win will have a ripple effect.
In an interview on a parenting segment on the Today Show, Warren said:
We're hoping this will impact everyone—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. They have the potential to change the world, just like everybody else.
I'm so overwhelmed with joy I can barely contain it!!!!! Its about time!!! All life is precious!!!! 😍😘🤗😍😘🤗😍😘🤗— Shannon Alexis🦋 (@MsWeezah) February 7, 2018
Lucas' mom hopes people will look past Down syndrome and see Lucas for who he is: a funny, energetic child who loves music and socializing.
She told Today:
He may have Down syndrome, but he's always Lucas first. He's got an awesome personality and he goes through the milestones of every child...we're hoping when he grows up and looks back on this, he'll be proud of himself and not ashamed of his disability.
A message from his aunt:
Here's the Today Show interview with his parents, if you want to see Lucas in action: