It’s hard to believe a monster truck driver who has jumped rows of cars, spun doughnuts and popped wheelies has fallen victim to bullying.
But that’s 17-year-old Macey Nichter’s message: it can happen to anyone, at anytime.
She met with students in the Helena School District’s School Age Child Care (SACC) program Thursday afternoon to address just that.
“How many of you have been bullied?” she asked, after she told them all to close their eyes. “No one is watching.”
Well over two-thirds of the 150 or so kids raised their hands. All the teachers raised their hands as well.
“You can be the one to stop it. You can tell someone,” she said. “I promise you, if you tell someone, it won’t get worse, it will get better.”
Nichter’s story began at a young age. She wasn’t like most of the girls in her hometown of West Point, Ky. She wasn’t into Barbies or tea parties. She was into engines.
Her dad, Joe, was always tinkering with engines, which in turn sparked her interest in motor sports.
Nichter said she was more like the boys, she liked the speed and excitement of feeling an engine under her feet.
But that was only half of her life. School was the other half.
“(I was) called all the rude names that were possible,” she said. “Pushed into lockers.”
It was the other girls who made fun of her. Who didn’t like her because, according to Nichter, they didn’t like her being different, didn’t like her “acting like a boy.”
She said it became easier in high school, but she still feels the effects of bullying.
And that’s why she’s using her monster truck tour to tell kids at a young age that bullying is not OK.
She sat in the center of a half circle of SACC students in the gym of Smith School Thursday afternoon and told her story. Then she listened to them. Mostly they asked her questions about monster trucks and the upcoming show, but a couple of brave kids had the courage to tell her they too had been a victim of bullying.
Matthias Tucker, 7, said, “(Bullying) is rude, it’s mean, and I think it really hurts.”
He also said he thinks it’s cool that he’s learning about bullying from a monster truck driver and hopes he will get to see her this weekend at the Lewis and Clark County Fairgrounds jumping, doing wheelies and proving to all those bullies that monster trucks aren’t just for boys.
Nichter is part of a four truck team, Team Beast, that will be showcasing their skills at 7 p.m. Saturday at the Lewis and Clark Fairgrounds. Tickets are available in advance online and at the door.