Girl Born Without Hands Wins National Handwriting Contest

A 10-year-old girl without hands emerged as the winner of a recent national handwriting contest.

Sara Hinesley, who lives in Frederick, Maryland, won the Zaner-Bloser National Handwriting Contest, which recognized her excellence in cursive.


The Zaner-Bloser National Handwriting Contest is an annual award given to students with a cognitive delay or an intellectual, physical or developmental disability. A panel of occupational therapists judged this year’s entries.

“I felt excited and proud,” Sara told Good Morning America. “Cursive is round and it’s trying to connect [letters] so it’s art.”

Image via WJZ

Sara, who was born in China, came to the U.S. at age 6 in July 2015. She was born without hands.

When she joined her new family, she was already able to speak and write in Mandarin. She then picked up English with the help of her sister, Veronica.

“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,” Sara told WJZ.

“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.” 

Sara’s contest entry. Image via Zaner-Bloser National Handwriting Contest

Sara is now a third-grade student at St. John Regional Catholic School. She will be given the award on June 13, along with a $500 prize.

“I just try my hardest and put my mind to it and this is what happens.”

Sara, who is also an artist, has impressed adults with her determination. She swims and plays chess in her free time.

“I have never heard this little girl say, ‘I can’t,’” Cheryl Churilla, her third-grade teacher, told the Washington Post. “She’s a little rock star. She tackles absolutely everything you can throw at her, and she gives it her best.”

Image via WJZ

While she has used an artificial hand that Veronica built for her, she has never worn an actual medical prosthetic. She also refuses aid in simple tasks.

“She has this independent streak where she just knows that she can do it and she’ll figure out her own way,” her mother Cathryn said. “She is beautiful and strong and mighty just the way she is, and she just lives that way. She really does.”

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