Toddler with Down's syndrome who modelled for Primark now fronting Amazon charity campaign
A toddler with Down’s syndrome, who previously modelled for Primark, is fronting a charity campaign called Amazon Smile, led by Bristol Children’s Hospital charity The Grand Appeal.
When 22-month-old Rio Williams was born, his parents, Kimberly and Ant Williams, did not realise he had Down’s syndrome.
When a person is born with Down’s syndrome, this means that they have an extra chromosome, explains the Down’s Syndrome Association.
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The NHS says individuals with the congenital condition will have some level of learning disability, with the level varying between individuals.
It wasn’t until Rio was rushed to Bristol Children’s Hospital for emergency surgery, having perforated his bowel, that he was diagnosed.
After undergoing life-saving surgery at Bristol Children’s Hospital, Rio then spent three weeks in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at St Michael’s Hospital in Bristol.
During the first few months of his life, Rio was in and out of hospital on a regular basis.
Specialists at Bristol Children’s Hospital later discovered that Rio’s windpipe was being severely compressed by vessels from his heart, resulting in him only having 2mm to breathe through.
The toddler has since undergone major heart surgery, in addition to embarking on a career as an aspiring model.
He is signed to the Zebedee Management modelling agency and has worked with brands including Primark, Cbeebies and The Grand Appeal’s Gromit Unleashed Shop.
The aim of Rio’s latest campaign, The Grand Appeal’s Amazon Smile, is to encourage consumers to shop at smile.amazon.co.uk.
When shoppers purchase products on the site, they can donate 0.5 per cent of their net purchase price to the charity of their choice.
Wallace and Gromit’s Grand Appeal, Bristol Children’s Hospital charity, raises funds for life-saving equipment, family accommodation, specialist support staff and an arts, music and play programme at the hospital.
On Rio’s Instagram page @downwithrio, a post promoting the Amazon Smile campaign stated in the caption that the toddler is “proof of the life-saving work Bristol Children’s Hospital are doing every day”.
“We will always be so grateful for the amazing support we received from The Grand Appeal and Bristol Children’s Hospital,” Rio’s parents Kimberly and Ant told The Independent.
“To know that Rio is spreading awareness of great causes like these and living with Downs Syndrome really means a lot to us.
Kimberly and Ant explained that while everyday life with a toddler is “hectic” as it is, they also are frequently busy with their son’s medication, physiotherapy, hospital appointments and photo shoots.
“Rio has fought through so many challenges since the day he was born, so to see him as the face of so many campaigns just fills us with joy,” they stated.
“When he was really sick, it was an incredibly difficult time, but we’ve come through the other side and our gorgeous little boy is now helping other sick children. We couldn’t be prouder of him.”