Ten-year-old NASCAR lover needs your vote

Cast your vote for this custom-designed NASCAR racer at http://www.sponsafier.com/share/143758.

Casey Lester is the kind of dad who would stay up all night to help make his children’s dreams come true.

He stayed up until 2 a.m. Wednesday morning joining social networking sites such as Facebook to try and drum up votes for an online contest his daughter, Niki, entered.

The contest challenged NASCAR lovers to design their own car. The winning design will be replicated on the pace car for the upcoming NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race taking place at Charlotte Motor Speedway in May. The winning designer will receive an all-expense paid trip to North Carolina for the races.

“She’s excited and I promised her I’d do all I can,” Casey, a little bleary-eyed, said at his desk at Fuoco Motors this morning.

Niki, who has Down Syndrome, is a typical 10-year-old who loves to spend the weekends snuggled up with her dad and siblings on the couch to watch NASCAR. It’s a tradition that they look forward to all week.

She saw the contest advertised during a race and couldn’t wait to get started designing her own car.

There were certain things she wanted in her design. It should feature Down Syndrome, her family, and The Special Olympics, since she is an athlete. Pictures of Niki competing and “just being a kid” were uploaded to the site as art for the car’s doors and roof.

“And, she wanted these hearts and her name in paint splatters,” Casey said.

He and his wife, Amy, finished the car by adding symbols representing Down Syndrome such as the double-helix marking the extra 21st chromosome and a hand marked with the Simian line, a trait characteristic of someone with Down Syndrome.

“We just had a lot of fun together,” Casey said.

Their car was selected into the first round of the competition. It is competing against more than 70,000 entries.

“I’ve explained to her that this is a very long shot,” he said, but he and the family can’t help but be caught up in Niki’s enthusiasm.

Casey is trying hard to summon the support to win. He even went so far as to send messages to Hollywood and sports stars who have children or are related to someone with Down’s Syndrome, such as “Desperate Housewives” star Eva Longoria and Albert Pujols, a professional baseball player.

He hopes that, in the very least, Niki’s car is selected as a Top 10 finalist. Those designers will receive a racing helmet printed with elements from their car designs.
“If we have any shot of getting anything, that would be really good,” he said.

If Niki were to win, she would get to ride shot-gun in the pace car on the first lap of the race. “I think she would just have a ball,” Casey said.

As of Wednesday morning, Niki only had 231 votes. Casey estimates she needs 15,000 to be in the top 10.

To vote for Niki’s car, visit http://www.sponsafier.com/#/gallery/view/143758. Each computer is allowed one vote per day. Contest ends March 30.


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