Searching for your daily dose of inspiration? Look no further than 7-year-old Anaya Ellick, a first-grade student at Greenbrier Christian Academy in Chesapeake, Virginia. Anaya, who was born without hands, recently won a national penmanship contest, The Virginian-Pilot reports. The feat was made even more impressive by the fact that Anaya didn’t use prosthetics for help.
Anaya, who holds a pencil between her wrists and stands at her desk to write, was selected to receive the Nicholas Maxim Special Award for Excellence in Manuscript Penmanship. According to CNN, the award was granted by the National Handwriting Contest, an annual competition sponsored by educational company Zaner-Bloser.
To be considered for the Nicholas Maxim Special Award, student must have “a cognitive delay, or an intellectual, physical or developmental disability,” Zaner-Bloser said in a release (via NPR). This year, the category received about 50 entries, which were evaluated by a team of occupational therapists.
The judges looked at Anaya’s submission, and “were just stunned to see how well her handwriting was, considering she writes without hands," the competition’s director, Kathleen Wright, told ABC News. "Her writing sample was comparable to someone who had hands."
Thanks to resolve and hard work, Anaya has some of the neatest handwriting in her class, says Tracy Cox, principal of Greenbrier Christian Academy. "Anaya is a remarkable young lady. She does not let anything get in the way of doing what she has set out to do,” Cox said in a statement.
Even as an infant, Anaya seemed determined to beat the odds. According to The Virginian-Pilot, she couldn’t hold a pacifier, so she kept it in her mouth by cupping it with one arm. As a toddler, Anaya taught herself to hold a fork and play with building blocks. And by the age of 5, she stopped using a set of prosthetics she’d received as a toddler because they only slowed her down.
Today, Anaya “ties her shoes. She gets dressed by herself. She doesn't really need any assistance to do anything," her mother, Bianca Middleton, told CNN affiliate WTKR.
Anaya received a trophy and $1000 in prize money, and her school was given a gift certificate to buy educational materials. Learn more about her triumph in the video above, courtesy of Inside Edition.
[h/t The Virginian-Pilot]
Banner image courtesy of Greenbrier Christian Academy.