NASCAR contest designer finishes just out of the top 10

Niki Lester, 10, shows off the NASCAR car graphics she helped design at her home in Fruita. She has Down’s syndrome and that is what the car’s graphics are designed around.

Despite every effort made by Casey Lester and the community, Toyota’s Sponsify contest announced that Niki Lester’s NASCAR design finished in 12th place Thursday.

Niki Lester, a 10-year-old girl with Down Syndrome, designed a car called Niki’s Ride and competed in a nationally sponsored contest in an effort to win a trip to the races in Charlotte, N. C. Local media, family, and friends spent two weeks voting online to help make her dream come true.

“She’s disappointed but she’s taking it a lot better than some other people,” Niki’s father Casey said.

To finish in 12th place is still quite an accomplishment and higher than Casey ever thought his daughter’s car design could get, he said, especially considering her car was competing against more than 80,000 national entries.

“I just can’t say enough about the power of people in this community. It was just amazing,” he said.

In two weeks, Niki was interviewed by three radio stations, two television stations, was featured on as well as had her picture and story in The Daily Sentinel.

Niki loved the attention she received and Casey hopes that her 15 minutes of fame taught people a valuable lesson about Down Syndrome.

Casey said the experience was positive and fun for his daughter. “She definitely has a little more spring in her step because of the recognition she got,” he said.

“We wish we had a way to tell everybody thank you and shake everyone’s hand,” Casey said.


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