In 2019, as their daughter celebrated her first birthday, the parents of a child who was born with Down syndrome were confronted with the more negative aspects of social media.
When Leanne and Scott Gavin shared a picture of their one-year-old daughter Megan devouring cake on the occasion of her first birthday in October of that year, they were doing something that millions of parents across the globe do every day: they were participating in a “cake smash.”
They weren’t prepared for the onslaught of unpleasant remarks that people felt the need to put on the picture.
It is not necessary to repeat such remarks here, but they ranged from nasty and cruel to rude and aggressive, which is something that no person, much alone a newborn, deserves.
“My surprise was immediately followed by rage. I felt embarrassed and outraged, and I wanted to go locate these individuals,” Scott told, “but after a few hours of sitting down and thinking about it, I realized that I’m not going to allow some jackass make me furious and spoil the day for my kid.”
Scott continued his comments, saying, “I’m going to spread the love, and in order to do so, I’ll be posting images of Megan.”
But he didn’t just post a lot of images; the father of six went even farther with his mission of love by turning his house into a miniature zoo using part of the money he had won in a contest two years earlier.
Through their company, Party Central Entertainments, he and Leanne are now able to share their passion for exotic animals with children who have special needs.
In his area of work, Scott stated, he has spoken to many other parents of children who have special needs who have had experiences quite similar to his own about encounters with internet hatred.
“That’s sad; we hear it all the time from the moms,” he added. “I don’t understand why other people have such a different perspective on them. I don’t get it.”
Through the telling of their story, Scott and Leanne sought to alter the topic of discussion, educate people about children who have special needs, and bring to everyone’s attention the fact that words can be hurtful, particularly when they are written anonymously behind a screen.