PEORIA, Ariz. (KNXV/CNN) – An Arizona mother is celebrating a Target ad that included a model with a wheelchair after it helped her toddler son, who also uses a wheelchair, see another kid like him.
Oliver “Ollie” Garza-Pena, who is almost 2 years old, was shopping Feb. 4 with his mother, Demi Garza-Pena, inside a Target in Peoria, Arizona, when he stopped the wheelchair he uses dead in its tracks.
The toddler, who was born with caudal regression syndrome that affects his lower spine and organs, had noticed a clothing brand sign featuring a model with a wheelchair. His mother says he “just stared at in awe.”
“It was just a beautiful moment to see: him admiring somebody like him because he doesn’t get to see that very often,” Garza-Pena said.
Ollie’s mother took to Facebook to share the moment that brought her to tears and to celebrate Target’s inclusivity. The post was shared so much it came to the attention of the model in the ad, a boy named Colton from Massachusetts.
Target launched the more inclusive ads in 2017, mainly in apparel, and refreshes them regularly.
“It’s what we live for, what we love to see: that kind of backing and support, not only for Ollie but just the things Target’s been doing,” said Luca Bakemeier, the Target store director.
Garza-Pena hopes other stores will follow Target’s lead, but until then, she is grateful for the moment, saying it’s something many parents like her dream of.
“To see their kids that included… we don’t get that often,” Garza-Pena said. “Everywhere, everybody, all the time – that would make a huge difference.”
CRS has been variously quoted from research studies as affecting between 1 in 25,000 to 1 in 100,000 live births, according to the International Sacral Agenesis/Caudal Regression Association. Its effects vary depending on the severity of the condition but can include malformation of the pelvis, lower limbs, kidneys and lower intestine, genital area, and varying levels of paralysis.
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