NORTH ANDOVER, MA (FOX 46 WJZY) - A man used his fashion industry connections to stage a very special birthday surprise for his older sister with Down Syndrome-- a full on fashion editorial photoshoot!
Chris Garafola, a Boston-based model, says his sister Brittany has always wanted to do everything he did.
"Whether it was going to the movies or moving out of the house to live on my own, she wanted the same opportunities— and deservedly so! One day when I showed her a magazine I was in; to no surprise Brittany responded, 'I want to do that. I want to model!'" Chris wrote in a Facebook post.
With Brittany's birthday coming up, Chris decided he was going to make it happen.
"I put the 'ask' out on social media that I wanted to do this special photo shoot with my sister, and I received messages from all around the world! I ended up teaming up with HIVE.Studio and Bearwalk Films," Chris wrote.
The team shot and produced an editorial fashion shoot to make Brittany's birthday wish come true. Chris says she was completely surprised and beyond excited.
"She started jumping up and down and giving me a hug and crying; It was very emotional," he wrote.
The shoot took place at the Stevens-Coolidge Place in North Andover, Massachusetts.
Chris says his goal at the outset was to make his sister's day, but he says the photoshoot and subsequent attention on social media "did so much more."
He says the photos drove special needs awareness, and went so far as to foster wider acceptance of those with special needs. It also challenged what society typically considers 'beautiful.'
"Beauty comes in so many different forms. Love is beauty. Confidence is beauty. Charisma and character are beauty. To me, my sister Brittany, is the epitome of beauty," he wrote. "Every day, I try to be a better man and more like my sister—regardless of what society thinks of me as a successful fashion model. In my eyes, she is one of the only things that is pure and perfect in this world. I am so blessed to have her in my life. She is my rock, and I love her to the sky and back."