(WEST SPRINGFIELD, Mass.) — It was just another Target run, until something that caught little Oliver Garza-Pena’s eye made him stop his wheelchair in its tracks.
His mother, Demi Garza Pena, told “Good Morning America” she “could not break” her son’s gaze from an advertisement in the boy’s clothing section. Oliver will be two next month.
“I could see the look on his face, he knew that boy was like him,” she said.
The photo featured 10-year-old Colton Robinson of West Springfield, Massachusetts. The moment Oliver saw Colton was captured on camera and posted to Facebook. It eventually made it’s way to Colton’s mom.
“I was overcome by emotion and started crying,” said Ashley Robinson. “The expression on Oliver’s face looking up to Colton was extremely touching.”
The two women have been in touch since connecting on social media and although their sons have different medical conditions — Oliver with Caudal Regression Syndrome and Colton with spina bifida — they do share some of the same challenges.
The photo has since been shared more than 20,000 times on Oliver’s Facebook page, Ollie’s World.
“When I posted the photo I knew it was heart warming and had a huge message to us in a very personal way but we didn’t realize the world felt the same way,” Garza Pena said. “It brings us faith to see the backing we got this from. We hope to educate the world on inclusion and representation because every child needs a role model. “
Colton has been modeling since 2014 when he was a finalist in a contest for Parents Magazine. Still, children with disabilities are few and far between in advertisements. Garza Pena wants that to change.
“We want companies to jump on board for more inclusive advertising. These photos need to be everywhere all the time,” she said. “People with disabilities need more representation in the community.”
Robinson agrees. She said the way Oliver is looking at the advertisement featuring Colton is the “picture perfect” reason representation and inclusion matter.
“Children of all abilities and sizes need to be represented.,” she said. “I mean, who doesn’t want to look at an ad and see someone that you have something in common with? It’s important for everyone to feel included. It’s just a beautiful thing.”
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