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Girl Born Without Hands Beats The Odds To Win National Handwriting Contest

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Ten-year-old Sara Hinesley may have been born without hands but she refuses to let that hold her back. Wanting to prove that she can do just about anything that able-bodied kids can, the third-grader put her skills to the test. She entered a handwriting competition after learning cursive and her work is incredible!

No Quitters Here

Little Sara was born in China and adopted four years ago by an American family. She moved to Frederick, MD, with her new family in July 2015, growing up with major love and support. Sara could speak and write in Mandarin, but learned to speak, read, and writer in English pretty quickly with the help of her sister, Veronica. Even though she was disabled, Sara was always determined to do things on her own and refuses to wear a prosthetic. “The things I can’t do, I try to figure out the ways I can do it and try my best to make it work,” she said in an interview with WJZ in Baltimore. “I just try my hardest and put my mind to it and this is what happens.”

That’s the same mentality that Sara uses in school. She attends St. John Regional Catholic School in Frederick and excels there as a student. This comes after she created her own way to write by gripping a pencil or pen with her arms. “She has this independent streak where she just knows that she can do it and she’ll figure out her own way,” Sara’s mother, Cathryn, shared with The Washington Post. “She is beautiful and strong and mighty just the way she is, and she just lives that way. She really does.”

A New Challenge

With her drive and determination, Sara took on the challenge of learning how to write in cursive. Using her writing method, Sara focuses on the shapes of the letters themselves and has done quite well. “I like the way the letters are formed,” she said. “It’s kind of like art.” However, Sara admits that learning cursive didn’t come easily for her. “I think it’s kind of hard — well sometimes easy and sometimes kind of hard — cause you don’t really remember all the letters to write,” she shared.

Using her skills, Sara decided to enter the 2019 Zaner-Bloser National Handwriting Contest. Blowing the judges away with her neat cursive even with her disability, the third-grader won the Nicholas Maxim Award in the contest. This particular award is for students who have a cognitive delay or an intellectual, physical or developmental disability. “I felt excited and proud,” Sara told Good Morning America about the award, which comes with a trophy, a $500 prize, and educational materials. She will receive her trophy at a special awards ceremony on June 13. Her win is about more than just the prize itself though. It’s her story of hard work and determination that is having a positive impact on others.

Inspiring The World

Sara’s win and background have been shared with news outlets all over the country. “Brave amazing little girl. Goes to show, you can do anything you put your mind to,” Facebook user Christine Smith shared on a post. Another user, Evelena Rhodes, stated, “Great job, baby girl. Let nothing or anyone stop you from doing what you want.” Cathryn echoed the sentiments of others online. “Sara is a testament to perseverance and the human spirit,” the mom said. “Every day I’m amazed at the things she is able to do and that she chooses to do. She doesn’t try to find her way to avoid an obstacle, she finds a way to complete the task.”

In addition to her great handwriting, Sara also likes to draw, swim, play with her sister Veronica, and participate in her school’s chess club. Sara does hope that this win and her story inspires other children “who have challenges,” reminding them that “if you try your hardest you can do it.”

Watch more on Sara’s story below!

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