Anaya Ellick is the proud winner of the Nicholas Maxim national handwriting contest for a second time. As someone with messy handwriting, this accomplishment in and of itself impresses me. But considering 9-year-old Anaya doesn't even have hands, the feat is full on mind-blowing.
Anaya does not use prostheses because, she says, they slow her down. And clearly, she has no need for them. By holding her pencil between her wrists, the third-grader at Greenbrier Christian Academy in Chesapeake, Virginia, recently won the Nicholas Maxim Special Award for Excellence in Manuscript Penmanship.
Her teacher told WVEC that she worked hard learning cursive so she could compete in the cursive category. "Anaya is a role model to everyone," Anaya's teacher Sarah Cannaday said. "Her classmates see her and see her doing the same tasks they are and they are often amazed that she can do just as well as they do, sometimes even better."
Just take a look for yourself at Anaya's cursive skills.
Most people can't write cursive as well as Anaya — proving why she won the penmanship award. (Photo: Greenbrier Christian Academy/Facebook)
Not her first win for handwriting
Anaya won the same award two years ago.
Competition director Kathleen Wright told ABC News in 2016 the judges were "stunned" when they saw Anaya's entry. "Her writing sample was comparable to someone who has hands," she said.
"Anaya is a remarkable young lady. She does not let anything get in the way of doing what she has set out to do," said Greenbrier Christian Academy Principal Tracy Cox in a press release. "She is a hard worker and has some of the best handwriting in her class. Her determination is an inspiration to all of us at GCA.
To qualify for the Nicholas Maxim Award, "a student must have a cognitive delay, or an intellectual, physical or developmental disability," according to educational curricula provider and contest organizer Zaner-Bloser.
Anaya may have a disability, but since birth she has figured out how to work with it. As a baby, she held her pacifier in her mouth by cupping it with her arm. As she grew, she found the best ways to build blocks, hold a crayon and write with near-perfect penmanship.
Bianca Middleton, Anaya's mother, told ABC News her daughter's can-do attitude is an inspiration to everyone, herself included. "She helps teach me things I take for granted every day, you know, and I look at her like, 'Wow, she's not complaining, never complains.'"
Editor's note: This article has been updated since it was originally written in May 2016.