Rising fashion model Chris Garafola proved the whole world that family always comes first when he organized a secret birthday photo shoot for his sister who has a Down syndrome. He documented the entire planning on his Instagram account, and recently, he shared with People some intimate behind-the-scene details of this sweet brotherly gesture.
Chris Garafola, 29, was recently listed as one of Harper’s Bazaar’s 25 Hottest Guys to Follow on Instagram. He first made waves in the fashion industry when he starred alongside supermodel Gisele Bundchen in a commercial for the largest South American multinational department store chain, Falabella.
Amid his booming success story, Garafola remained humble and loyal to his duties, especially as a little brother to his older sister, Brittany. Brit was a person with special needs, but she remained the light and inspiration in the family.
The siblings grew up together in Ludlow, Vermont. From there, Chris got the idea that Brittany often wanted to do the things he did. Eventually, when Brit learned that Chris started modeling, she wanted to do just the same.
“When I started to show her the commercials or magazines I was in, she would tell me she wanted to do it, too,” Chris said.
This gave him the idea of having a professional photo shoot for her birthday. He then utilized his 50,000-strong Instagram followers and Facebook connections to find volunteers who could help him with his plan.
I am so, incredibly grateful, for all of the amazingly talented people who offered their time and services, to make my sister Brittany’s birthday, one she’ll never forget. Brittany has always wanted to do everything her little brother did. If I go to prom, she wants to go to prom, if I go to college she wants to go to college. Over the years, I always showed her my work and she’s like, “That’s cool! I want to model!” She kept asking and asking. As you guys who follow my journey know, Brittany and I would do Instagram videos together documenting our every day lives as siblings. She started saying, “I want to go to Hollywood! I want a limo!” I was like, “Where are you getting all this stuff from? You don’t want to go to Hollywood, you have the best life in the world.” But she kept going back to the modeling thing so I decided to surprise her for her birthday and make that wish come true and have her model for the day. The priority was to make her day and show her she can do anything that her brother can do and she should be allowed to. My sister’s the most beautiful person in the world. On a greater scale, I wanted to show the world what true beauty is. I wanted to encourage people to live life happy, be strong and confident, and to spread positive energy with the world. There is a lot of hurt and anger in our world, but there will always be more love and light. Brittany, your brother loves you more than you know. I hope you had the best day — you looked stunning. Maybe one of these days, you and your little brother will model a big campaign together as #TeamGarafola. Regardless, you’ll always be a supermodel and you will always, be my hero. **BIG THANKS TO OUR AMAZING CREW!!**???????? @hive.studio @cassablanca_kid @austinhuck @jpietroski @itsclaireroche @chrisvalites @sashagreenhalgh @michael0bueno @hlm1230 @bearwalkcinema @veevisuals @tayglo @kaciecorbelle @ennisinc @maggieagency @thetrustees @wholefoods @starmarkets @traderjoes @b_p_r @boston_photo_rental @changingthefaceofbeauty #changingthefaceofbeauty #fashion #editorial #Supermodel #todayshow #ellendegeneres #dailyinspiration #downsyndromeawareness #lovematters #love #Gap #IMGModels #wlyg #calvinklein
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Their mom, Kerryann, agreed to be an accomplice and drove Brittany to Boston from Vermont on her 32nd birthday, July 30.
On the day of Brit’s birthday, she woke up at her brother’s Boston home and excitedly checked what her mom and little bro had in store for the celebration. To her surprise, nothing extra was prepared. Instead, they went for a walk and grabbed something for breakfast.
“It was killing me seeing the look on her face!” Garafola recalled. “She looked at me like, ‘Come on, man, aren’t we going to do something?'”
Watch the video below:
Chris admitted that it was a rough time for them to keep the secret, but they managed to hold it until they reached the venue of the photo shoot. When Brit noticed the props and the people gathered, he then told revealed the surprise event to her.
[Featured Image by Chris Garafola/Instagram]