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“Keep calm, it’s only an extra chromosome” is a popular phase among those with down syndrome and their loved ones. Gerber, a leader in the infant nutrition industry, is known for their trademark logo of a charcoal sketched baby. Since 2010, Gerber has launched a photo contest through Instagram to promote a baby that embodies what it’s like to be the Gerber baby. This year Gerber kept it calm, announcing the first baby to win their contest with down syndrome.

Lucas Warren is a 1-year old from Dalton, Georgia and is the first ever baby with down syndrome to win the Gerber baby photo contest. His contagious smile has swept the nation through photos gone viral. From more than 140,000 participants in the contest, Lucas was 2018’s Gerber Spokesbaby contest winner and has truly captured the hearts of not only the Gerber team, but all who meet him.

Shedding light to the special needs community, Gerber chose Lucas as the winner for many reasons. A stronger Gerber motto is “every baby is a Gerber baby”, making Lucas a prime fit to showcase this truth. Through the powerful tool of technology and media, Lucas is representing a bigger meaning here– individuals with special needs not only add value to society, but bring joy along with it.

There are many efforts to become a more inclusive society. The Gerber brand naming Lucas 2018’s Gerber baby is advocating acceptance for special needs within the world. About 6,000 babies with down syndrome are born in the United States each year. Down syndrome is the most common chromosomal condition. Out of 23 chromosomes, individuals with down syndrome have an extra copy of chromosome 21– trisomy 21 being the most common.

With only 1 in 700 babies being diagnosed with down syndrome, this disability isn’t common among the general public. Many people don’t come across an individual with down syndrome on a daily basis unless they’re a family member, friend, or volunteer. Due to this, it’s easy for the public to fall into a state of ignorance.

Individuals with special needs are often bullied for being different, especially in school when other children don’t know how to react. The Warren family hopes that Lucas’ time in the Gerber spotlight will increase awareness among society that although individuals with down syndrome may have different needs, but they truly are just like everyone else.

Winning the Gerber baby contest has been life changing for the Warren family. Not only will Lucas’ pictures be displayed on Gerber’s social media, but the family was also granted $50,000 which will be put towards education. As the entire special needs community celebrates Lucas and this accomplishment, Lucas will forever having bragging rights of winning “America’s cutest baby” thanks to Gerber.