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Girl Without Hands Wins Handwriting Competition

May 01, 2019

Sara Hinesley, 10, doesn’t understand why it’s so remarkable that she won a national handwriting competition.


She paints and draws and sculpts clay. She can write in English and some Mandarin. When she learned to write in cursive this year, Sara said, she thought it was “kind of easy.”


Never mind the fact that Sara was born without hands. 


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

Sara came to the United States from China about four years ago to join her new family.


Sara, a third-grade student at St. John’s Regional Catholic School in Frederick, Md., won the 2019 Nicholas Maxim award for her cursive handwriting. The award is given annually to two students with special needs — one for print writing, the other for script.

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.


In her free time, Sara likes to draw “things that are around me,” like sunflowers. She 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.