Georgia Army National Guard Spc. Jason A. Warren, an aircraft powertrain repairer with the Marietta, Georgia-based Company D, 1st Battalion, 171st Aviation Regiment, and his wife Cortney garnered national media attention on Feb. 9, 2018, when their son, Lucas, was named the 2018 Gerber Spokesbaby.
The Warrens were amazed when they received the news of Lucas' win.
"Absolute shock," said Jason. "It was hard to believe he won out of 140,000 entries."
Lucas, diagnosed with Down syndrome, is the eighth Gerber baby since the contest began in 2010. Inspired by the original Gerber baby sketch of Ann Turner Cook, families began sharing their baby photos with Gerber. In response, Gerber launched its first official photo search competition in 2010.
Georgia Guardsman Spc. Jason Warren smiles for a picture with his wife Cortney and son Lucas. (Courtesy photo via U.S. Army)
"We hope this opportunity sheds light on the special needs community and educates people that with acceptance and support, individuals with special needs have potential to change the world," said Cortney. "Just like our Lucas."
The Warrens hope other families with special needs children can look to Lucas as a source of inspiration.
"We hope this will help people kick-start their own lives and give them more confidence," said Jason. "They might think if Lucas can do this, what can I do in my life?"
The winning photo shows Lucas, sitting in an overstuffed chair, grinning from ear to ear wearing a black and pink polka-dot bow tie.
"He is very outgoing and never meets a stranger," said Cortney. "He loves to play, loves to laugh, and to make other people laugh."
"He is just the absolute cutest thing ever," said Staff Sgt. Misty D. Crapps, supply sergeant with Company D, 171st Aviation Regiment. "He always smiles at everybody he sees."
Georgia Guardsman Spc. Jason Warren smiles for a photo with his wife Cortney and son Lucas. (Courtesy photo via U.S. Army)
Jason looks forward to continued service in the Georgia Army National Guard. He feels a sense of pride and family being part of the organization.
"I absolutely love the Guard: the ability to help my community and serve my country," said Jason. "The benefits of service are always great to have, and it allows me to serve my country the way I want to."
The fellowship of his teammates in his aviation unit also reinforces the feeling of family.
"The Guard has been with me with everything I've ever done," said Jason. "Through my grandmother's passing, when I had shoulder surgery, they've helped Cortney and me a lot, and they are a second family to us."
Lucas Warren, the 2018 Gerber Spokesbaby. (Courtesy photo via U.S. Army)
The aviators and Guardsmen in Jason's unit share his feeling for service in the Guard and look forward to his continued service.
"He always volunteers to do the little things which are not part of his job description to make the unit better," said 1st Sgt William W. Adcock of Company D, 171st Aviation Regiment. "Specialist Warren is a fantastic Guardsman. He does what we all do: dedicates his time and personal energy to serve the people of this state and the United States."
Jason plans to re-enlist in March 2018 for another six years and hope Lucas sees him and understands the importance of service.
"I hope one day Lucas will see I was in the military and has a sense of pride," said Jason.