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Lehi mother recruits unique car owners for unforgettable surprise



Brynn Carnesecca | Lehi Free Press

When moving to a new city or school, it’s normal for kids to struggle to acclimate. Navigating a different social environment, a new location and many new faces can be overwhelming. To help her kids adapt, Lehi resident Leslie Christiansen hatched a unique plan: ten days, ten cool cars, and two kids to surprise. 

Before moving to Lehi, the Christiansen family lived in Sandy. Leslie’s twins, Owen and Gwen, found the move to Lehi and Belmont Elementary School challenging.

“It’s all new for them,” Leslie explained. “Every day, I would wait in line, pick them up from school, and I would always say, ‘How was your day?’ Sometimes it was amazing; other days it was a struggle.” 

One such day, Leslie waited in line behind a customized Tesla with butterfly doors and upgrades galore. 

“My mind was reeling,” said Leslie. “I thought, ‘What can I do to help them at school? What can I do to help them make friends? What can I do to help those after-school conversations be positive?’” 

With connections through her entrepreneurial business, Leslie had the idea to surprise her kids by picking them up from school in unique and vintage cars. 


Leslie decided to post on the Utah Connect Facebook group, hoping to find a few car owners gracious enough to help make her idea a reality. She threw her idea out there and was astounded by the response. 

“As soon as I posted that on there, hundreds of comments started flowing in,” said Leslie. Car owners from all over Utah began sending pictures of their cars, leaving comments on the post and reaching out to Leslie. “It was a total shock,” Leslie recounted. “I did not expect it to take off like that.” With hundreds of offers to help, Leslie narrowed the pool down to ten cars for a complete two-week school pickup schedule. 

During the two weeks, each pickup car will be unique and boast its special features and charm. Futuristic cars, cars from the 1930s, and everything in between will make an appearance to pick up the Christiansen twins. 

One such car is the ChalkBus. Created by Jonathan Sherman, the bus is an interactive art experience that can be reused over and over again. 

“This really touched my heart as a dad,” said Sherman. “All my kids are grown now, but we all remember how hard it is to assimilate to a new school.” 

Because the ChalkBus is an interactive experience, the bus will be on the side of the school for aspiring artists and parents to decorate. 

“I think this will create a great memory. This reinforces the thought that our moms have our back,” Sherman said. “That is something that we all need, to know that our people are looking out for us.”

Leslie hopes the surprise will send a similar message to her kids. 


“Hopefully, they can find new friends and have something interesting to talk about,” she said. “I hope it will help them develop more in school.” 

The Christiansens are thankful to all the kind car owners for helping surprise the twins. The car community has been very helpful, running by the motto ‘Why not?’ 

“These people are taking time out of their day to help brighten someone else’s day and come together as a community,” Leslie shared. “It’s a really beautiful thing. I’m very humbled by all of this. I didn’t expect it at all.” 

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