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7-Year-Old Girl Born Without Hands Wins National Penmanship Contest

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.

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NASA
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Space
NASA Could Send Your Tweet Into Deep Space
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NASA

The inventors of Twitter could never have imagined how their creation would change the world. The social media platform has become the stage upon which some of the most important dramas—and pettiest comedies—of the last few years have played out. And now it'll help beam one lucky person's message into interstellar space, thanks to NASA's #MessageToVoyager contest.

The Voyager 2 and Voyager 1 spacecrafts launched on August 20 and September 5, of 1977. The probes set sail in opposite directions, bound for the outer reaches of space, each bearing a golden record imprinted with messages of peace and welcome from Earth to whomever else the spacecraft might encounter along the way.

The decades since have seen years of astonishing firsts from the two little probes. Voyager 2 has cruised past and sent back images from Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune. Just five years ago, Voyager 1 became the first craft to enter interstellar space.

In celebration of the 40th anniversary of the missions, NASA wants to give the people of Earth the opportunity to send a new message. The agency will transmit the single winning tweet into the area of deep space Voyager 1 now occupies.

To participate, compose a message of up to 60 characters. That includes letters, numbers, spaces, and punctuation. Tag your submission with #MessageToVoyager and post it to Twitter by August 15. You can also share it on Instagram, Facebook, Google+, or Tumblr.

Representatives from NASA, JPL, and the Voyager team will narrow down the entries, and then hold a public vote for the winner.

For full contest rules, check out NASA's #MessageToVoyager website.

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Airbnb
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You Could Be One of the First People to See the Upcoming Solar Eclipse With New Airbnb Contest
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Airbnb

Airbnb is going to help two lucky people become some of the first in the nation to see the cross-continental total solar eclipse when it journeys across the U.S. on August 21. As Travel + Leisure reports, the company is holding a contest to send two guests on a deluxe eclipse-viewing mini-vacation in Oregon.

First, the winner and their guest will head to Bend, Oregon on August 20 to stay in a geodesic dome under the stars, looking up at the night sky from the observation deck with multiple telescopes, according to the press release. They’ll hang out and chat about the stars with with astrophysicist Jedidah Isler, who studies black holes, and learn how to shoot great nighttime photos with Babak Tafreshi, a National Geographic photographer.

An interior view of the Airbnb geodesic dome.
Airbnb

The next day, Isler will accompany the winners on a private jet for a two-hour flight over the Pacific Ocean. The plane will fly along the path of totality, potentially extending the amount of time the guests have to view the Moon completely covering the Sun by up to a minute compared to what people will see from the ground.

Even if you don’t win, plenty of people are trekking out to the path of totality, and you can probably find another place to crash. Airbnb estimates that it has around 3800 listed houses along the path of totality. (This one in Oregon is going for $10,000 a night that weekend.) But you might have more trouble finding a private plane to fly you to a viewing spot atop the clouds. The next total solar eclipse won't be visible from the U.S. until 2024, so this is your last chance for a while.

You have until August 10 to send Airbnb your best argument for why you should get to go on a great eclipse adventure.

[h/t Travel + Leisure]

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