SOURCE: Zaner-Bloser

April 22, 2015 13:00 ET

Ohio and Michigan Special Needs Students Earn Top Honors in National Handwriting Contest

COLUMBUS, OH--(Marketwired - April 22, 2015) - Today, Zaner-Bloser announced the Nicholas Maxim Award Winners, honoring two special needs students -- one manuscript (print) winner and one cursive winner -- for their dedication and mastery of handwriting, in the 2015 National Handwriting Contest.

This year's cursive winner, Jacob Donahue, is a fourth-grade student at St. Brendan School in Hilliard, Ohio. Jacob's handwriting learning challenge stems from his medical diagnosis of Autism, which causes difficulty with his fine motor skills.

"When I think back to when he first started writing and all the struggles he's had along the way, it is truly amazing for him to be receiving this award," said Haithi Donahue, Jacob's mother.

The manuscript winner, Emily Van Wienen, is a second-grade student at West Side Christian School in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Emily's handwriting learning challenge stems from the amniotic bands she was born with which caused her hands to form incorrectly making it much more difficult to write.

According to her mother, Emily endured three different surgeries by the time she was three including a procedure on her hand that removed some of the fingers that never formed properly. "She is definitely a blessing and inspiration to our family," said Monica Van Wienen. "She has the drive to overcome just about anything and this award confirms that."

To be eligible for the Nicholas Maxim Award, a student must have a cognitive delay, or an intellectual, physical or developmental disability. A team of occupational therapists judged all the entries.

Zaner-Bloser announced the winners at the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA) National Conference & Expo in Nashville, Tennessee. Jacob and Emily's schools will receive a framed certificate and a Zaner-Bloser coupon to spend as they wish. Zaner-Bloser plans to award each student $1,000 and a trophy at upcoming school assemblies.

"Since the inception of the Nicholas Maxim Award in 2011, all the students who enter this contest continue to inspire us," said Bob Page, president of Zaner-Bloser. "The dedication and commitment of these winning students sends the message that all students should have the opportunity to overcome challenges and to reach their highest potential." 

Zaner-Bloser created and named this award in January of 2011 after receiving an entry from Nicholas Maxim, a fifth-grader from Readfield, Maine, who submitted an outstanding cursive entry despite the fact he had been born without his lower arms and hands. His achievement received national media attention.

About the Zaner-Bloser National Handwriting Contest
Now in its 24th year, the National Handwriting Contest is an annual event sponsored by Zaner-Bloser to promote legible handwriting. The contest is free to enter and open to all students in Grades K-8. The contest includes a Special Needs category, the Nicholas Maxim Award. Students can win many great prizes, including cash and trophies. Zaner-Bloser estimates that more than 4 million students have participated in the contest over its 23-year history.

About Zaner-Bloser
Zaner-Bloser is an educational curricula and digital resources provider with over 125 years of experience in delivering foundational skills in handwriting, composition, language arts and literacy. Our flexible solutions support educators in their mission to help students learn. We provide dynamic, appealing and effective educational programs and services to inspire all students to become lifelong learners and partner with educators to improve results in the classroom. With an ever-growing number of digital technologies and evolving research shaping the education landscape, Zaner-Bloser is committed to meeting schools' needs today -- and in the future. For more information visit

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