Gerber’s new ‘spokesbaby’ has Denver Down syndrome charity buzzing

DENVER -- A toddler is taking the advertising world by storm.

Lucas Warren became the first Gerber Baby with Down Syndrome.  And at a Denver charity, it couldn't be more ecstatic.

"This morning when I opened my email, and I learned that Gerber had chosen a baby with Down syndrome as their Gerber Baby spokesperson, I was bouncing off the walls. It was great. My whole office was bouncing off the walls," said Michelle Sie Whitten, president and CEO of the Global Down Syndrome Foundation, based in Denver.

The original Gerber Baby is perhaps the most recognized baby face in the world.  An advertising icon for 91 years, and the image of the so-called "perfect baby."

"And I still think there's a lot of discrimination of people with Down syndrome," Whitten said.  "And I think we're here to say it's not a terrible thing, our kids are great, adults are great, and they really live wonderful lives."

The Global Down Syndrome Foundation's Facebook page has been abuzz with Wednesday's announcement from Gerber.

"We put it our on our social media, as well, we've got tens of thousands of hits. I think a lot of people are happy to see this diversification of the Gerber baby spokesperson," Whitten said.

She said the decision to make the 18-month-old from Dalton, Georgia, the new Gerber Baby is a game changer.

"Gerber joins a long list of companies like Target and Kmart and Osh-Kosh and Fisher Price that have been incorporating kids with Down syndrome into their advertising, and not just people with Down syndrome. People we call 'differently abled,'" Whitten said.

Lucas was picked from more than 140,000 entries to win this year's Gerber Baby contest.

His parents get a $50,000 prize, and Lucas will appear on Gerber's social media channels and in Gerber ads throughout the year.