A dad in Utah has created a beautiful photo series of his 18-month-old son "flying" to show that his Down syndrome doesn't hold him back from spectacular things.
Alan Lawrence told BuzzFeed News he began creating the pictures of his 18-month-old son, Wil, last year. Wil is the youngest of his six children, though the family is expecting a baby boy this September.
Lawrence said that he and his wife Nikki didn't know their son had Down syndrome before he was born. While his wife handled the news "really, really well," Lawrence said he struggled with it at first. "I was a little more selfish about it," he said.
However, Lawrence said he quickly grew to understand what a blessing Wil was to his family. "Wil is going to be able to do anything he took his mind to," he said.
Lawrence said his family had a running joke that Wil was always trying to fly because of a funny crawl he does. "It’s just an ongoing joke in the family that one day he is going to take off and fly," he said.
Lawrence is an art director and a web designer who also does freelance photography. So, to make his family smile, he began creating photos of Wil "flying" because of his funny crawling style.
However, Lawrence said he soon realized the photos had a deeper meaning, and he could spread them further to raise awareness in the community. "I want other parents just starting out this journey…to have a more positive outlook on it than I did," he said.
Lawrence began using hashtags to promote his photos on Instagram to others in the Down syndrome community. Pretty soon he went from under 200 followers to nearly 7,000.
Lawrence said he is now taking and sharing the photos with the goal of helping parents like him, who may be scared when they learn their child has Down syndrome. "A child with Down syndrome can be a blessing to your family," he said.
The family has now launched a Kickstarter campaign with the goal of raising money to create and produce calendars of the pictures of Wil. Lawrence said the family plans to donate half of the proceeds to Down syndrome charities.
Learn more about the Lawrence family here:
Stephanie McNeal is a social news editor for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York.