Saturday, January 29, 2011

Girl with Down syndrome wants to be model for children's book character

From O.C. Now in Calif.:

About a week ago, Audrey Presby (pictured) and her mother, Nicki, came across a contest that they just had to enter.

The Fancy Nancy Fantastic Fan photo contest just seemed perfect for Audrey, a 6-year-old Costa Mesa resident who is a big fan of the popular children’s books.

Last March, for her birthday party, Fancy Nancy was the theme. She 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 Presby’s friends shared the link on Facebook and encouraged others to register and vote for Audrey.

Nicki Presby 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 Presby 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 Presby 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 Presby 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 Presby has watched with excitement, as her daughter has shot up the ranks. She is now No. 45 out of 611 entrants. If she finishes in the top 20 by Jan. 31, she will be among the finalists who will be judged by a panel of HarperCollins Publishing employees to become the winner.

Nicki Presby has been doing her best to spread the word on Facebook, asking friends to vote for her daughter. 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. 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 Presby, who is the director of education and outreach at the Down Syndrome Foundation of Orange County, which is 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.”