There is nothing like a picture of a baby, is there? Especially a smiling and laughing baby.
Meet Lucas Warren – the Gerber Baby for 2018.
Is he not one of the cutest little guys ever? It is difficult for me to believe that in all of the babies chosen to represent Gerber in the contest since 1928 Lucas is the first child selected to have Down Syndrome. His parents, Courtney and Jason Warren from Dalton, Georgia were surprised to learn that their sweet Lucas had been selected from over 140,000 applications to represent Gerber for the year. The award includes a generous amount of money which will be set aside for education for Lucas.
What a beautiful little boy and what a blessing he is going to be to so many. I just know that this is the start of something beautiful in his life and in the lives of those who are part of his life.
Many of you know of our own Carlton – Chris’s younger brother. Carlton also has Down Syndrome and while the early onset Alzheimer’s has robbed us of a little of our sweet Carlton these days we still have some really great memories of how he has touched lives all along the way.
The National Down Syndrome Society had a section years ago called My Great Story where folks could share their stories. Today I celebrate little Lucas Warren and know that he will also have a Great Story to share just like the following one I shared about Carlton.
What do you expect when you get married? You hope to become part of a loving and giving family who accepts you and welcomes you into the family. What did I get when I married my husband? So much more! My brother in law, Carlton, has Down Syndrome. When I first met Carlton he was only 9 years old. A lot of time has passed since then and as each year has passed I have gotten to experience what an incredibly great guy he is.
Carlton was born in the late 1960’s and it was a time when people born with Down Syndrome were not always understood. Carlton’s parents were very courageous. It might have been easier to place their baby in an institution, but they chose to allow Carlton to be the person that he was meant to be—to grow and thrive in a loving and caring environment. He was and continues to be a part of a family—a very important part.
Carlton has proven to us time and time again that he is, indeed, a unique and special individual. Years of great care and teaching through Marimor Schools allowed Carlton all of the best opportunities and he grew to love swimming, singing and of course, dancing. As the years passed he was employed by Walmart and later Sam’s Club where he continues to work today. It is the highlight of his week when it is time to go to work. He stocks shelves and is sometimes in charge of boxes—determining which ones are good for customers to use and which ones need to get recycled. It is serious work and Carlton rises to the occasion.
One of the things that I have noticed is that when I visit Carlton at work he is happy. Happier than most other people who work!!! His co-workers love him and are his number one fans. I don’t think everyone can say that about their coworkers.
Carlton’s life has been a blessing. Not only to me as his sister in law but to so many others with whom he comes in contact . One of the best moments I can remember about Carlton was the first time I met him. It was on Mother’s Day and my first time to meet the family. I had not been dating his brother for too long so imagine my surprise when I ended up going to a house filled with relatives!!! As we were driving to dinner Carlton proceeded to “marry” my husband and I in the back seat of the car—complete with “You may now kiss the bride.” I think he must have had some secret knowledge back then, as we have now been married 29 years.
What would my life be like without Carlton? I cannot even begin to imagine. What a blessing he has been and continues to be to the entire family as he loves and challenges each of us to become all that we can be.