Company Features Model with Down Syndrome in First Ad Campaign

Here at Surf Style we believe in the importance of representation, diversity, and inclusion. We strive to create an atmosphere of inclusion in all of our stores. In July of 2019, Robin Lally and her team at Help Us Gather approached Surf Style with an opportunity we simply could not …
Surf Style

An aspiring model with Down syndrome is being featured in a popular beachwear company’s first ad campaign.

Vibrant photos of Ethan Holt, 16, grace Surf Style’s website and show him posing on the beach and in front of the Hollywood, Florida, company’s flagship store on Clearwater Beach.

“We jumped on the opportunity to include Ethan in our marketing, not only because of his incredible charismatic personality and love of the camera, but also to set an example of inclusion,” Holt’s introduction on the company website said.

A non-profit group called Help Us Gather (HUG) spent months looking for modeling opportunities for Holt and when Surf Style heard about him, they immediately contacted HUG.

“When Help Us Gather approached us with this opportunity, we were eager to participate,” said Surf Style’s marketing manager, Tara Malinasky. “We hope this sets an example for other brands to feature those with disabilities in their marketing efforts, as well.”

Robin Lally, founder of HUG, said in a statement that more companies would feature models with different abilities if given the chance.

“We know Ethan has something special and I believed that companies would choose to have people of all abilities represent them in advertising campaigns, if given the opportunity,” she concluded.

Holt told reporters that he is getting a lot of attention for his new career, and said he is now “ready to be a model.”

“My friends on the swim team and a couple of girls, even my coach knows, say I’m a famous model now,” he commented.

The young man also participates in the Florida Division of the Special Olympics and has won multiple gold medals at both the regional and state levels.

“Anytime he gets to compete, whether its paddle board or swimming, he always gets gold,” said his mother, Phoy Holt.

“He’s a big influence and example for all the little guys that also have Down Syndrome, and they see what he can do and [are] very proud of that,” she concluded.

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