This September 2017 photo provided by the Warren family via Gerber shows 14-month-old Lucas Warren of Dalton, Ga. Lucas' contagious smile won over executives at Gerber baby food who have made him their "spokesbaby" this year. Lucas is Gerber's first spokesbaby with Down syndrome in the company's 91-year history. (Courtesy Warren family/Gerber via AP)

Editor's note: On Wednesday, Feb. 7, the Gerber baby food company chose Lucas Warren to be the 2018 Gerber baby, the first time the company has chosen a child with Down syndrome to win the contest. Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, gave the following speech on the Senate floor on Thursday in honor of the company's selection. It is published here as a companion to Utah legislative efforts aimed at banning abortions for unborn children with Down syndrome when the diagnosis is the impetus for the action. Every life matters, every child — born and yet to be born — has infinite worth and potential to bless the world.

Mr. President,

There is good news. There is great news. And then there is the story of Lucas Warren of Dalton, Georgia.

I do not know Lucas. For he is only 18 months old — and so has the good sense not to consort with politicians. But like millions of Americans who have not met Lucas, I will never forget him.

You see, Mr. President, yesterday the Gerber baby food company selected little Lucas its “Gerber Spokes-baby” of the year for 2018.

Lucas’ winning photograph — sent in by his parents Jason and Courtney — was selected from more than 140,000 entries. Even at a glance, it’s not hard to see why.

But Mr. President, this picture deserves more than a glance. And I don’t just mean because of the bow-tie.

You see, Lucas Warren was born with Down syndrome. Which is to say, Jason and Courtney Warren are among those Americans blessed to know, to love — and to be loved by — someone with Down syndrome.

According to the Global Down Syndrome Foundation, only 38 percent of Americans are so lucky. Lucky, Mr. President.

Those of us who are so lucky know the warmth and the tender cheer that individuals with Down syndrome carry with them wherever they go — how with little more than a smile, like Lucas’ here, they “make gentle the life of this world.”

All of us are born with that mission. But we don’t always fulfil it. Children like Lucas and parents like the Warrens don’t just carry their share of that burden; they carry some of ours, too. We owe them more than we know.

I am a child of God,” begins a children’s song of my faith. “And He has sent me here. Has given me an earthly home with parents kind and dear. I am a child of God, and so my needs are great.

Those lyrics take on a particular poignancy when you know families with special-needs children.

For children with special needs not only deserve special love; they give it, unceasingly and unreservedly, just like the God who first knitted them together in their mothers’ wombs.

We should all commend the Gerber company for its choice of new spokes-baby, and especially thank the Warrens for the gift of their Lucas.

In Washington, we are often reminded of the old maxim that there are no solutions in this life — only tradeoffs. And sometimes it’s tempting to believe that is true.

10 comments on this story

But this photograph proves otherwise. In this fallen world of ours, that smile, that little boy, is a pure good — a blessing to us all.

Interviewed yesterday after the announcement, Lucas’ mom Courtney said, “He may have Down syndrome but he’s always Lucas first. … We’re hoping when he grows up and looks back on this, he’ll be proud of himself and not ashamed of his disability.”

“Not ashamed of Down syndrome. …” So should we all hope for Lucas … and for the rest of us, too.

Sen. Mike Lee is Utah's junior senator and chairman of the Senate Steering Committee.