By Dave Andrusko
TODAY co-host Savanna Guthrie said it all with her first statement yesterday: “There’s too much cuteness for this studio to hold.”
The morning program was given the “special privilege” of revealing the winner of the 2018 Gerber baby contest—18 month old Lukas Warren, the first baby with Down syndrome to be the iconic symbol of Gerber baby products.
We learn from correspondent Kristen Dahlgren that from 1928 until eight years ago, the charcoal sketch of a baby was a fixture on Gerber products. Now each year they hold a photo contest to find “the little one who embodies what it’s like to be the Gerber baby.”
It takes about a nanosecond to see how and why Lucas charmed the socks off the people at Gerber. As his mother, Cortney said, there’s that “twinkle” in his eyes and his magnetic smile.
The story that accompanied the live broadcast tells us
Cortney Warren said she entered the Gerber contest on a whim, after a relative pointed out an ad seeking submissions. After posting a photo of Lucas on Instagram using the contest’s hashtag, Cortney and her husband, Jason, received the news that their son had been chosen from more than 140,000 entries to be the 2018 Gerber Spokesbaby.
Bill Partyka, CEO and president of Gerber, says Lucas’s smile and happy expression captured the hearts of the Gerber team.
“Every year, we choose the baby who best exemplifies Gerber’s longstanding heritage of recognizing that every baby is a Gerber baby,” said Partyka. “This year, Lucas is the perfect fit.”
Cortney told Dahlgren that their “biggest concern” always was how people would treat him, that they would be “afraid of him.” But they’ve “never met anyone who came in contact with Lukas who didn’t smile.”
As for the Warrens, “It’s never once changed how we felt,” she said. “He is always our son.”
Katie Driscoll is founder and president of Changing the Face of Beauty, a non-profit organization committed to advocating for equal representation of people with disabilities in adverting and media. Driscoll says brands like Gerber have the power to change the future of the disability community by valuing the minority as a consumer in their advertising.
“We believe if brands represent children with a disability, they are communicating their value to our society,” said Driscoll. “Moves like this move us closer to a more inclusive world.”