Armed with Determination: Born Without Hands, 10-Year-Old US Girl Wins Handwriting Contest

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Sara Hinesley who can write in English and some Mandarin, will receive her national award - a trophy and a $500 prize - at an awards ceremony on June 13.

Sara Hinesley was born without hands but that hasn’t stopped the 10-year-old from taking on every challenge life has thrown at her with determination. The latest one: she won a national handwriting competition in the United States.

Sara Hinesley who can write in English and some Mandarin, according to a Washington Post report, thought cursive writing was “kind of easy” when she started to learn it this year. Oh, and she also “paints and draws and sculpts clay.”

"I have never heard this little girl say, 'I can't,' "the Post quoted Cheryl Churilla, Sara's third-grade teacher, as saying. "She's a little rock star. She tackles absolutely everything you can throw at her, and she gives it her best."

Sara, a third-grade student at St. John's Regional Catholic School in Frederick, Maryland, won the 2019 Nicholas Maxim award for her cursive handwriting.

Sara has never worn a prosthetic and rejects help that might ease some tasks like cutting paper with scissors, said her mother, Cathryn Hinesley.

"She has this independent streak where she just knows that she can do it and she'll figure out her own way," Hinesley said. "She is beautiful and strong and mighty just the way she is, and she just lives that way. She really does."

HOW SARA HINESLEY WRITES

To write, Sara holds a pencil between her arms. "I like the way the letters are formed," Sara said. "It's kind of like art."

Sara came to the United States from China about four years ago to join her new family. When she arrived in July 2015, her mother said, she could speak and write in Mandarin. She picked up English quickly with the help of her sister, Veronica.

"We learned pretty quickly to trust her judgment and let her gauge how much she wants to do and then let her do it," Hinesley said. "That's Sara. She moves through life in this way that you never really see her as having a disability because she has this can-do, I-can-tackle-anything attitude."

Sara said she likes to draw "things that are around me." She also enjoys swimming, playing with Veronica, also 10, and participating in her school's chess club. There's little she isn't willing to try, her mother said.

"Sara is a testament to perseverance and the human spirit," Hinesley 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."

Sara will receive her national award - a trophy and a $500 prize - at an awards ceremony on June 13.