MAITLAND, Fla. - The first man with Down syndrome to win an Ironman triathlon is getting lots of attention and offers in his hometown of Maitland.
When Chris Nikic finished the Ironman competition last year, the 21-year-old crossed into a new world, one filled with big opportunities.
His father, Nik Nikic said, "It’s happened so fast. It’s been such a whirlwind."
His mother Patty agrees.
"We never thought it would open up so many other opportunities," she said.
Just look at his wall of fame and you’ll understand. Nik said, "Inspiration of the year. This is the Guinness Book of World Records. Here is Ironman Florida. The finisher medal."
But, it’s not just about trophies and articles.
"Chris Nikic Day, Jan. 25. This is the contract for the book deal with Harper Collins."
Two different book deals, a sneaker deal, speaking engagements and lots of other sponsorships.
"Like Orca for the wetsuits, Vento for the bikes, Techno for the gym equipment and it goes on and on."
We asked Chris what it's like?
He said, "It feels pretty awesome."
Awesome to be treated like a celebrity with attention and gifts.
Chris: "A car."
Valerie Boey: "Someone just gave you a car?"
Patty: "A very generous person. A wonderful man said come to the parking lot and pick out a car."
Nik and Patty are trying to keep Chris grounded during his newfound fame.
Nik said, "Compares to someone signing a professional contract out of high school."
But Chris didn’t have a normal education or life. Nik and Patty say the doctors told them not to expect much.
"The limits were so low that they had no chance. I think what Chris just did is just busted a barrier and said 'No, our possibilities are much greater.'"
Chris hopes to inspire others with special needs. He dreams of living on his own one day and settling down. He says he wants to get married.
"Yeah, a wife."
Nik said, "It’s all that matters."
Patty said, "He wants a wonderful companion to live his life with."
For now, his parents encourage him to take his time and stay focused.
He says, "The best thing of all is the invitation to Ironman Hawaii 2021!"