BRISBANE, Australia --Madeline Stuart, 18, has Down syndrome, but don't think for a second that slows her down.
You probably couldn't list in one breath all the activities Maddy keeps up with: swimming, cricket, dancing, cheerleading, gymnastics and basketball, to name a few. And you can add modeling to that list now, too.
Maddy's mom, Roseanne, said she is modeling to spread awareness about Down syndrome.
"I think it is time people realised that people with Down syndrome can be sexy and beautiful and should be celebrated," she told ABC in a statement.
Stuart said that, despite some people's perceptions of Down syndrome, her daughter feels beautiful from the inside out. Stuart hopes Maddy's modeling will show that.
"She is not insecure in the least bit," she said, "but I have made a point of never letting anyone be critical of her and telling her every day how amazing, funny, smart, beautiful, wonderful she is."
The modeling goes along with Maddy's desire to live a healthier lifestyle. She realized she needed this because she couldn't keep up with friends in sports, Stuart said.
"She wanted to do cartwheels and handstands but because she was too heavy she couldn't," her mom said. "So Maddy wanted to get healthy and get more physical."
Once about 45 pounds overweight, Maddy has nearly reached her goal weight loss, her mom said. This has been the result of keeping up her active lifestyle and eating healthy.
"Now if she wants something that is unhealthy she asks me," Stuart explained, "and I ask her if it is a healthy choice, she will put it down every time."
Stuart hopes Maddy shows that people with Down syndrome can live active, healthy lifestyles like everyone else, she said.
She also wants to raise awareness about what it's like being a parent of a child with Down syndrome. The main thing she wants others to know, she said, is she doesn't want you to feel sorry for her.
"I actually feel sad for people who may never experience the unconditional love of someone like Maddy," she said, explaining she is a single mother and Maddy is her only child and her world. "I won lotto the day she was born."
Stuart is convinced that Maddy's happy-go-lucky, caring spirit will also help her in her aspirations as a model. Maddy launched a Facebook page, and it has earned her 100,000 fans in 10 short days.
"She will win millions of hearts if she gets the chance," Stuart said.
Photos used with permission.
See more on Maddy's Facebook page, "Madeline getting Downs to modelling."