About a week ago, Audrey Presby and her mother, Nicki Presby, came across a contest they just had to enter.
The Fancy Nancy Fantastic Fan Photo Contest seemed perfect for Audrey, a 6-year-old Costa Mesa resident who is a big fan of the popular children's books.
For her birthday party last March, "Fancy Nancy," a series of children's books about a precocious girl, was the theme. Audrey enjoys dressing up like Fancy Nancy. The photo from the party would be the right one to send in for the contest, as her mother registered the entry online and friends and family members voted for Audrey each day.
Yes, entering the contest just seemed natural. Nicki's friends shared the link on Facebook and encouraged others to register and vote for Audrey.
Nicki began to realize how special it would be if Audrey were to win. The contest winner will be featured in a new "Fancy Nancy" book.
Nicki believes that winning, or even reaching the top 20, could send a powerful message.
Audrey has Down syndrome and juvenile idiopathic arthritis, or as Nicki sometimes calls that, "a little extra fanciness."
"Most books featuring children with special needs are found in the special-needs section of libraries and bookstores," Nicki said. "But if Audrey were to be chosen and included in an illustration in the next 'Fancy Nancy' story, the book would be center stage, front of the store, out there for everyone to read and see. How amazing would that be?
"What started as a fun idea turned into a mainstream inclusion possibility."
Nicki has watched with excitement as her daughter has shot up the ranks. She is now No. 41 out of 612 entrants. If she finishes in the top 20 by Monday, she will be among the finalists who will be judged by a panel of HarperCollins employees to become the winner.
So why is the Daily Pilot sports editor writing about Audrey? I also believe her winning would send a very cool message. My 5-year-old daughter, Trinity, has Down syndrome and was recently diagnosed with autism. I love her with all my heart. Having Audrey represent her and many, many others would be extremely special.
Nicki has been doing her best to spread the word on Facebook, asking friends to vote for her daughter.
You can vote, too. You must register on her page. Only one vote per day is allowed. Go to fancynancyworld.com. Click on the "Fancy Nancy Fantastic Fan Photo Contest" link at the bottom-left corner. Find Fancy Audrey at No. 41.
Being featured in a "Fancy Nancy" book just makes sense for Audrey.
"Fancy Nancy" is known for having an extraordinary personality, always dressing up in extravagant clothes and teaching vocabulary words.
She's different and fancy.
Audrey can identify with that, her mother says.
"We're all a little bit different, but we're all the same," said Nicki, who is the director of education and outreach at the Down Syndrome Foundation of Orange County in Newport Beach. "I think that's why all the girls like [Fancy Nancy]. There's no norm.
"It's who and what you want to be … to have a girl with Down syndrome as a character would be amazing … it kind of seems it was meant to be."