Utah Food Service recruits Pinebrook’s Elle Rawlings for Arts Festival ad | ParkRecord.com

Utah Food Service recruits Pinebrook’s Elle Rawlings for Arts Festival ad

When art lovers visit the Utah Food Service’s Epicuriosity culinary booth at the Utah Arts Festival next week, they will see a little cutie from the Wasatch Back.

The catering service is featuring 2-year-old Elle Rawlings of Pinebrook on its advertising campaign.

While showing children in ads isn’t anything new, the Utah Food Service posters are different than others. Elle has Down syndrome and her mother Nicki is the parent coordinator for the Utah Down Syndrome Foundation for Families in Summit and Wasatch counties.

The Utah Down Syndrome Foundation (UDSF) is a nonprofit organization that serves as a resource for families who have members diagnosed with Down syndrome.

The idea to feature Elle in the Utah Food Services ad campaign was inspired by a photo that Rawlings passed around to friends.

"The photos are generally for me to share and show that a child with Down syndrome is just like all of the other children out there," Nicki Rawlings told The Park Record. "I want people to accept her and realize that she’s just as charming as their own children and that I’m proud of her."

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One of the photos, featuring Elle in a chef’s hat, landed in the lap of Kate Sullivan, controller/director of marketing for Utah Food Services.

The Utah Foods Services is an award-winning catering business known for its contracts with the Salt Palace Convention Center and the South Towne Expo Center.

Sullivan, whose youngest daughter, Bridget, 12, has aicardi syndrome, a rare disorder that is the result of underdeveloped tissue connecting the left and right halves of the brain in girls, saw the photos after a National Ability Center event.

"There isn’t anyone who has the same syndrome that Bridgie does, but we hooked up with different families through different activities and that’s how I met Nicki," Sullivan said. "We saw the pictures in March and we had talked about using them in one or our ad campaigns."

The idea struck a chord with Sullivan’s brother-in-law, Robert, who owns Utah Food Services.

"He has always been passionate about helping people with special needs," Sullivan said. "(Utah Food Services) work with the TURN community and employ many of these individuals who bring in their care managers who work with us. They are tasked with washing dishes, making salads and fruit platters and those sorts of things."

TURN is a nonprofit dedicated to "choice, quality and respect for people with disabilities and those who support them, according to its mission statement."

"When I showed (Robert) these amazing pictures of Elle, and one was with a chef’s hat, which was so much fun, we knew that we needed to use it," Sullivan said.

Rawlings, an amateur photographer, said the call was unexpected.

"I like to take photos of Elle just to pass on to friends," she said. "When I take photos of her, we usually have a theme in mind.

"We mostly do holiday shoots and I was between months when we didn’t have a holiday, so, I decided to go with the chef theme," Rawlings said. "I ordered the little hat on Amazon.com and took the photos."

Having Elle’s face on the Utah Food Services’ ads is akin to a national campaign called Changing the Face of Beauty, according to Rawlings.

"This organization essentially encourages companies to utilize people with special needs in their advertising," she said. "That’s something that I’ve had an awareness of."

While not officially part of the Changing the Face of Beauty, the idea of featuring Elle in the Utah Food Services ads at the Utah Arts Festival is something Sullivan fully supports.

"We are one of the main sponsors of the (event)," she said. " So, we are excited for this."

In Summit and Wasatch County, 10 families have members diagnosed with Down syndrome and rely on the Utah Down Syndrome Foundation for Families in Summit and Wasatch counties, Rawlings said.

"Through this organization, parents who face a birth of a child with Down syndrome or have had their child diagnosed with Down syndrome will learn what to expect and how to cope with the situation and find support," Rawlings said. "In many cases, there are medical implications with a Down syndrome diagnoses. So, we help the parents get into contact with these resources to help with medical strategies, should the children need them."

The families get together often for recreation and to network.

"I have come to rely on the parents of older children who have Down syndrome and what they’ve gone through including therapies and early intervention and schooling," Rawlings said. "There is an entire special-needs community up here that participates in all of the recreational activities in this area and they should think about using these kids and adults in their campaigns."

The Utah Arts Festival runs from June 25 to June 28 at Library Square in Salt Lake City, Utah. For more information, visit http://www.uaf.org . For more information about Utah Food Services, visit utahfoodservices.com. For more information about the Utah Down Syndrome Foundation, visit http://www.udsf.org.

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