Ethan Holt is a young man full of dreams. He also happens to have Down Syndrome, but that hasn’t stopped him from chasing a single one of them, including becoming a model and the star of several ad campaigns.
Holt, 18, has been chosen to everything from local surf shops to nationwide retail giant Walmart.
According to ABC Action News, Holt’s career began with what his mother calls “a premonition.”
During a family road trip to New York, Holt said he had a vision of being a famous model. Later on, his mother, Phoy Holt, found out that Help Us Gather (HUG), a nonprofit advocating for the inclusion of people with disabilities in society, was giving away free headshots.
Phoy helped her son sign up for a free headshot, and his dream of becoming a model was getting ready to come true.
“I said they’re giving a free headshot and you can wear anything you want,” she told the outlet. “So he picks out his three-piece suit, and I’m like, are you gonna wear that?”
The suit, and Holt’s radiant personality, worked and the young man was hired to model for SurfStyle, a beachwear brand. Then, Advent Health sought him out to appear in ads, and now, Holt has hit it big with an appearance in a national Walmart ad.
“I love being on camera. It’s a lot of fun,” Holt told local news outlet KENS5. “I do the work. I do all of that. I listen to everybody and do all of that.”
To match his vibrant energy, Holt has no shortage of folks in his corner supporting him and cheering him on.
“It’s a huge step for people with disabilities to have that representation on a national scale, to see somebody that looks like themselves,” Tyler Baynard, an ESE teacher at Northeast High School, told ABC Action News. “We’re just so proud of Ethan and being kind of an advocate for the inclusion that we special needs teachers fight for every day.”
Northeast ESE teacher Scott Peterson added, “We don’t have enough people including individuals with disabilities into our mainstream America and seeing that Walmart commercial, I was like, ‘yes, that’s what we need, we need more of that’!”
The support of his family, teachers, and disability advocates has touched Holt beyond words.
“I’ve got no words,” he said. “I’m happy and I want to thank you, everybody.”
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