Toddler’s Reaction to Target Ad Is Going Viral for the Sweetest Reason

“One day we want the boys to play and race down the street together.”
ByNehal Aggarwal
Associate Editor
Published
Feb 2020
letter board that says lead by example

Oliver Garza, a one-year-old from Peoria, Arizona, doesn’t often get to see kids like him. But that changed on a recent trip to Target with his mom, Demi—and his reaction to one of the retailer’s in-store ads is probably the most heart-warming thing you’ll see today.

On February 4, Oliver came across a Target poster of another boy in a wheelchair and was stunned. In fact, he was so taken aback that he didn’t even respond when she called him. “I wasn’t really paying attention and he stopped his wheelchair and he flipped it around and looked at the poster. It was extremely heartwarming to see him relate to someone on a poster, he’s hardly 2 years old. We don’t get to see that kind of stuff out there. It’s the kind of role models these kids need. We just really valued that moment,” Demi told PEOPLE during an interview. “When I explained that the boy had a chair like him, he got all excited. He did a little giggle.”

Oliver has caudal regression syndrome, a condition that makes it impossible for him to walk or even bend his legs. “We found out about his condition when I was 18 weeks pregnant. His spine didn’t develop—because of that, his spinal cord and internal organs were affected,” Demi shared with the outlet. “He sees kids all the time, and he’s always watching them run around.”

She later took to her son’s Facebook account (which she manages and uses as a platform to discuss his condition and raise awareness) to share the image. The photo quickly went viral and many commenters were able to identify the boy on the poster as 10-year-old Colton Robinson.

Colton’s mom, Ashley Robsinson of West Springfield, Massachusetts, was also surprised by the reaction to the photo. She explained that Colton has spina bifida, a condition in which baby’s spinal cord doesn’t develop properly in the womb. He began modeling in 2014 and has since worked with companies such as Toys “R” Us, Tommy Hilfiger and Target.

“We were sitting at home and Colton’s school nurse came across the post on this support page and was like, ‘Oh my God! I know that little boy. His nurse then reached out and told her about Oliver. Demi messaged me that same night and I told her, ‘Your post has me crying,’” Ashley shared with PEOPLE.

Though the moms have bonded over the experience, the boys have not yet met. However, Colton’s enjoying being a role model for little Oliver. According to Ashley, “He’s really enjoyed knowing that someone’s been looking up to him and knowing that he can be a role model. When doing the photo shoot, we don’t really think about how other families will feel. So, for me it was the first time I saw a reaction. It was emotional and beautiful.”

Demi believes she and Ashley have kindled a “lifelong friendship over this,” and she does hope that one day the boys get to meet in person. “We do hope our paths cross,” she told the outlet. “One day we want the boys to play and race down the street together.”

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