‘Ready for the world to meet Maddie’: Newest Gerber Baby shines spotlight on military families

By Katie Pelton and Emily Van de Riet

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KKTV/Gray News) – Meet the newest Gerber Baby, Maddie Mendoza from Colorado Springs.

Maddie comes from a proud military family. Her parents, Jun and Crystal Mendoza, entered the 2023 Photo Search contest like thousands of others.

For this year’s contest, Gerber asked for a photo of the baby and a throwback photo of their mother. Crystal Mendoza found one of her own baby pictures that was the spitting image of Maddie.

The family was shocked to get the call from Gerber.

“It feels surreal because we never thought Maddie would win,” Jun Mendoza said. “It felt like a once-in-a-lifetime shot, but we’re really grateful for this opportunity and ready for the world to meet Maddie.”

The adventurous little one already loves all that Colorado has to offer.

“She loves to go to the local zoo here and feed the giraffes,” Jun Mendoza said. “She loves to go paddle boarding on the water, and we’ve gotten hiking in and around Colorado.”

Maddie is already adventurous with food, too.

“She even tried sea urchin and liked it,” her dad said.

Crystal Mendoza said Maddie is a rainbow baby – a child born after a previous miscarriage – and has brought “immeasurable joy with every milestone, snuggle and moment spent with her enriching our lives,” she said in a press release from Gerber.

Maddie’s parents have been together for 22 years, starting as high school sweethearts and even enduring a long-distance relationship for nine years.

“But ever since we got married and moved around together, we’ve been in; New Mexico, Texas, Germany, and now Colorado,” Jun Mendoza said.

Jun Mendoza is a physician in the Air Force, where he has been serving for 16 years. Crystal Mendoza is a dentist.

Both parents are from first-generation families from the Philippines. Both of Maddie’s grandfathers served in the Navy.

“[Our parents] moved here from the Philippines, and both did at least 20 years of service. I think, being around them really inspired me to join the service,” Jun Mendoza said.

As part of winning the contest, Maddie will be featured in Gerber’s marketing campaigns throughout the year. The family also won a $25,000 cash prize along with free Gerber products for a year. The family said they plan to use the prize money to invest in Maddie’s future.

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