At 29 years old, model Chris Garafola has already found major success in the fashion industry. He’s well known in fashion industry. He’s travelled the world modelling, starred in a commercial alongside Gisele Bündchen, and has amassed a following of thousands on social media.
But despite the demands of his career, the most important thing in Chris’s life is his big sister, Brittany.
“My sister’s happiness has always been and forever will be, my happiness,” said Chris.
Brittany and Chris have always looked up to one another. Chris has always told Brittany, who has Down syndrome, how much he admired her, but she always wanted to do whatever it was Chris was up to.
Recently, she told her brother she wanted to be a model, just like him. Chris posted on Facebook, sharing with the world just how he responded to her request:
“Growing up, my sister has always wanted to do everything I did… 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!’ I would always just tell her, ‘Brittany, you are already a model! I’m trying to be more like you!’ But she kept asking, so I knew it was something she really wanted. I’ve always tried everything in my power to provide Brittany with every opportunity I’ve been given in this life, so I didn’t take her wish lightly”.
Brittany’s birthday is something of a holiday for their family—“she starts talking about her birthday months before the date!” says Chris—so he knew that had to be the day to make her dream come true.
Chris reached out to the network of photographers he’d connected with, and ended up teaming up with HIVE.Studio and Bearwalk Films to shoot a fashion editorial and video of Chris and Brittany together—a huge surprise they pulled off on Brittany’s birthday!
“Brittany’s reaction was priceless when she found out what we were doing for her birthday. It was a total surprise and she didn’t know until we walked onto the set. She started jumping up and down and giving me a hug and crying; It was very emotional”.
But neither Chris nor Brittany anticipated the huge response their photo series would garner online.
“My number one priority was to make my sister’s day; but on a greater scale, it did so much more. It not only drove awareness around people with special needs, it went one step further by fostering wider acceptance. It also challenged what our society generally 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.”