Gerber's Bright Star: Maddie Mendoza - A Smiley Military Adventure (Gerber Baby 2023)
The annual Gerber Baby Photo Search Competition unveiled its shining star this year, and her name is Madison, affectionately known as Maddie.
Image source: Gerber
Hailing from the picturesque landscapes of Colorado, Maddie's story embodies a captivating mix of charm, resilience, and adventure, making her the perfect embodiment of the Gerber legacy.
In a departure from the norm, this year's Gerber Baby competition brought a fresh twist. Alongside the traditional adorable baby snapshots, Geber invited parents to contribute their own childhood photos, creating a heartwarming collage of generations.
Maddie's journey to triumph began with a "standout" throwback submission, drawing attention not just for her radiant smile but for the heartwarming narrative of love and determination shared by her parents. The stage was set, and Maddie was poised to captivate hearts.
The moment of victory was met with elation as Maddie's mom, Crystal Mendoza, exclaimed, "Oh my gosh!" The excitement was palpable, resonating through the airwaves.
Jun Mendoza, Maddie's dad, an Air Force doctor and lieutenant colonel, echoed the sentiment, declaring, "Wow, that's amazing!" The proud parents stood beside their winning bundle of joy, a happy trio radiating with pride.
Their appearance on the TODAY show, a beacon of morning TV, marked a pivotal moment for the Mendoza family. Their smiles and shared happiness conveyed the essence of their journey. Maddie's coos and giggles echoed her adventurous spirit, affirming her place as a natural charmer.
As the proud parents narrated Maddie's early days, a pattern of resilience and determination emerged. Born with a fighting spirit, Maddie defied the odds by shedding her need for supplemental oxygen shortly after birth. This display of independence aligned perfectly with her adventurous nature, a spirit that seemed to guide her from the very beginning.
Maddie's ten-month-old visage radiated joy from her mother's loving embrace. The Gerber judges were enchanted not only by her smile but by her parents' desire to let the world know that their precious Maddie was more than just a pretty face. Her strong spirit and determination are as much a part of her identity as her heartwarming smile.
Maddie's culinary curiosity adds another layer to her dynamic personality. Crystal and Jun shared with pride that their little explorer's palate is as adventurous as her spirit. From sea urchin to kimchi, Maddie has embraced a world of flavors, even if not all of them have become instant favorites.
The Mendoza family carries a rich heritage of military service. Both Crystal and Jun hail from first-generation families from the Philippines, and Maddie's grandparents have proudly served in the U.S. Navy. This legacy of service adds depth to Maddie's role as a representative of military children.
Tarun Malkani, Gerber President, and CEO, choked up with emotion as he delivered the exhilarating news to the Mendoza family. "This is truly the best part of my job," he confessed, acknowledging that while all babies are perfect, Maddie's charm truly captured their hearts. "We’re super proud to have her represent us," he added with genuine pride.
Beyond the title of the 2023 Gerber Baby, Maddie was bestowed the honorable role of "Chief Growing Officer." Her victories came with an array of rewards: a fashionable wardrobe from Gerber's clothing line, a year's supply of Gerber products, and a substantial $25,000 prize. In the spirit of giving, Gerber pledged $25,000 to the March of Dimes' maternal and infant health programs and $5,000 to Operation Homefront, a noble initiative supporting military families.
Maddie's journey this year will see her as the face of Gerber across social media channels and in captivating marketing campaigns. Her cherubic charm will grace screens, reminding everyone of the spirit of innocence and joy that Gerber represents.
As Maddie steps into her role as the 2023 Gerber Baby, she joins a lineage of winners who have each brought their unique stories to the Gerber stage. Ann Turner Cook, the original Gerber Baby, left an indelible mark, her legacy weaving through generations of cherubic faces. Maddie's win extends this legacy of happiness and hope.
With a blend of charm, determination, and an adventurous spirit, Maddie Mendoza shines as Gerber's latest and brightest star. Her story is a testament to the power of family, love, and the endless possibilities that lie ahead.