If you want to hear a story that will inspire you and perhaps even make you cry, please keep on reading. An adorable 7-year old girl from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, who was born without hands, has won a penmanship award at her school.
Annie Clark, a first grader, at Wilson Christian Academy in West Mifflin, Pa., won a trophy and $1,000 from Zaner-Bloser Inc., a company that publishes textbooks. Annie writes by holding a pencil between her arms and feeds herself the same way. For the little girl, this is natural, since this is the only way she knows how to get things done.
The Nicholas Maxim Special Award for Excellent Penmanship was created to honor Nicholas Maxim, a Maine fifth-grader, who was born without hands or lower arms and entered the company’s penmanship contest last year. His work so impressed the judges that they created a new category for students with disabilities in his name. Annie was the first recipient of the award.
Annie accepted the prize on her school’s basketball court to the cheers of the students and faculty. She wore all yellow in honor of the schools colors. After accepting the large trophy, which she held comfortably between her arms, she showed the crowd how she held a pencil between her forearms.
Annie was asked after the ceremony if she was nervous about going up to accept it, she replied, “Not really, but kind of.” She went on to say about her writing skills, “’I think about doing words and spelling,’ and has ‘learned to go slow’”
Annie, who is an adopted child from China, lives with her adopted parents, Tom and Mary Ellen Clark, along with 5 more adopted children and three biological children. Annie is one of four of the adopted children who all have disabilities that affect their hands or arms.
The Clarks also have an adopted child, Alyssa, 18, and a biological daughter, Abbey, 21, with Down syndrome.
Tom Clark said, “Annie has always been very, very determined, very self-sufficient in dressing herself and feeding herself. She can ride a bike. She swims. She is just determined that there’s nothing she can’t do.”
“Each time, we weren’t looking to adopt a special-needs child, but that is what happened,” said Mary Ellen Clark, 48, of McKeesport. “This was the family God wanted for us.”
Mary went on to say of Annie that she has learned to paint, draw and color. She also swims, dresses, eats meals and opens cans of soda by herself, and uses her iPod touch and computers without assistance. She hopes to someday write books about animals.