When Erin Statz opened Target's annual toy catalog and saw her son featured, she couldn't help but be overwhelmed by emotions. Her 2-year-old son, Ronin, was born with Down syndrome, and although one in every 691 babies is born with Down syndrome in the United States, it's not often we see these children modeling in advertisements. Erin wrote a thank-you note to Target, praising it for choosing her son for the third time, and it's incredibly eye-opening.
When my son Ronin was born with Down syndrome two years ago, we were shocked and scared but also saddened. Not saddened by the fact he had Down syndrome but by how we knew society would view him. What would his future be like?
So today, I never imagined my son would be featured in your advertisement three times, with the latest being in your annual Toy book! You CHOSE to feature two children with Down syndrome and one child in a wheelchair in this year's toy book and it's awesome! By featuring my son in your advertising, you are showing society that all people matter and all people should be treated like everyone else. And I can show the world that Down syndrome isn't scary, the possibilities are endless, and most importantly my son and our family are not suffering. Ronin is the blessing I never knew I needed. How did I get so lucky?
Cheers to you Target for leading the way in this important mission. I hope many more companies and most importantly people will make inclusion happen and make it stay!"
Erin and her husband, Jakin, learned of their son's condition four hours after giving birth, but remembering the doctors saying "I'm sorry" still makes her cringe. Ronin's parents feel he is a beautiful blessing and his condition does not change that. Target recognized that Ronin is just like any 2-year-old boy with an infectious smile and a love for life and a Fisher-Price toy.
Her story was posted on the popular Love What Matters Facebook page, and since it's gone up, people from all over are supporting this amazing story in the comments. One mom even posted a photo of her daughter, also with Down syndrome, featured in a Frozen costume!