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February 07, 2018 10:50 AM

Gerber has found their 2018 Spokesbaby — and he’s breaking the mold.

After an exhaustive photo search that garnered more than 140,000 entries, 1-year-old Lucas Warren of Dalton, Georgia, has been named this year’s Gerber Baby, it was announced Wednesday on Today. And this year is extra noteworthy: Lucas is the first child with Down syndrome to win the title since the contest began in 2010.

“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,” said dad Jason Warren. “They have the potential to change the world, just like everybody else.”

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Mom Cortney Warren shared that she entered the Gerber contest, which has been held online for the past eight years, without much thought, tagging an adorable photo of Lucas showing off his smile while donning a mint green shirt and bow tie. That happy face completely reflects Lucas’ personality.

“He’s very outgoing and never meets a stranger,” Cortney told Today Parents. “He loves to play, loves to laugh and loves to make other people laugh.”

CEO and president of Gerber Bill Partyka said Lucas’ contagious smile won over the team. “Every year, we choose the baby who best exemplifies Gerber’s longstanding heritage of recognizing that every baby is a Gerber baby,” he explained. “This year, Lucas is the perfect fit.”

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Aside from scoring the coveted Gerber Baby title, the Warrens were awarded a $50,000 cash prize, which they say will go toward Lucas’ education, and the baby’s year will also be documented on Gerber’s social media platforms.

“He may have Down syndrome, but he’s always Lucas first,” said Cortney. “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.”

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