The newest Gerber spokesbaby is making history, and he doesn’t even know it yet. On February 7, Gerber announced that the winner of its annual Gerber Baby Photo Search is Lucas Warren, a one-year-old from Dalton, Georgia. Lucas is the first baby with Down syndrome to be chosen as the Gerber spokesbaby since the contest first launched on 2010.
Lucas was chosen out of more than 140,000 entries submitted by parents across the United States. His mom, Cortney Warren, reportedly decided to enter Lucas in the contest after a relative happened to mention Gerber’s open call for adorable babies. She tagged Gerber in an Instagram photo of Lucas dressed up for his first Sunday church service, wearing a polka dot bow tie and a big, open-mouthed grin.
According to Bill Partyka, Gerber’s CEO and president, it was the smile that secured the title. “Every year, we choose the baby who best exemplifies Gerber’s long-standing heritage of recognizing that every baby is a Gerber baby,” said Paryka. “This year, Lucas is the perfect fit.”
The Gerber baby title comes with a $50,000 cash prize and the honor of being featured on Gerber’s social media profiles for the next year, but for the Warren family, it also means so much more. Lucas’ parents Cortney and Jason visited The Today Show to share how important the milestone is for raising awareness and promoting representation for children with conditions like Down syndrome.
"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," Jason said. "They have the potential to change the world, just like everybody else."
“We know Gerber chose him because of his cuteness, but it also is spreading awareness of acceptance of people with disabilities of all kinds,” said Cortney. “No matter if we have a disability or not, we’re all just humans.”
His mom is excited about Lucas winning, but she hopes that people recognize Lucas not just as the Gerber baby with Down syndrome, but as the funny, outgoing, music-loving little boy he is.
"He may have Down syndrome, but he's always Lucas first," she explained. "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."
Before the Gerber Baby Photo Search contest launched in 2010, the original Gerber baby was Ann Turner Cook. A sketch of her likeness was featured on the brand’s products for 80 years, which means Lucas is the first baby with Down syndrome to represent the iconic baby food company in almost 90 years.
Ann Turner Cook, who recently turned 91, shared her excitement about welcoming Lucas to the Gerber family. "I know you will take great pride in representing Gerber this year, as I have for the past 90 years," she said. "There is no greater privilege than to be a universal symbol for babies all over the world. I am delighted to take part in this celebration. Lucas is precious, and I look forward to watching him grow this year!”
Lucas is already becoming a universal symbol for babies with Down syndrome, with an outpouring of joy and love coming from parents and family members on social media who were touched by Gerber’s announcement.
“I am a parent of a 2 yr old girl with DS! I am crying tears of joy that a child like my daughter was recognized to be the face of their brand! Congratulations to this beautiful family! Way to go Lucas!” wrote one mom on Twitter.
Another mom wrote, “As a parent of a boy with Down Syndrome, this is everything! Crying when the father talks about education & his son’s life. There are so many obstacles we face but so many joys too! Go Lucas!”
Representation in media and public life matters, and not just in TV and movies. It is so important for young children growing with special needs or developmental challenges to know that they can be valued and celebrated just like any other kid. We’re so happy that Gerber recognized the light and joy in Lucas, and chose him to represent their brand. Thanks to their platform, the whole world will get to know his beautiful smile and outgoing personality.
Congratulations, Lucas! We look forward to seeing your smile lighting up social media throughout the year.