Education reporter Mary Niederberger wrote the story in Thursday’s Pittsburgh Post-Gazette about 7-year-old Annie Clark — born without hands — winning a Zaner-Bloser national penmanship award.
“Read the comments on it,” a colleague advised Niederberger when she got to work yesterday afternoon.
“I was afraid — I don’t know why — but someone will always find something negative to say. But with this story, no one has. Everyone has been so inspired.”
Niederberger says she put the wrong day on her photo assignment and ended up waiting — with first-grader Annie and her family — for the photographer to arrive. That turned out to be a blessing.
“I didn’t realize how good the story was until I met the parents and her siblings” and talked while waiting for the photographer. “It’s pretty incredible all around.” (Annie’s father told Niederberger: “She can ride a bike. She swims. She is just determined that there’s nothing she can’t do.”)
Devout Christians, the Clarks started to adopt disabled Chinese children. In addition to Annie, the Clarks adopted sons Travis and Talbot, 10, and Tyler, 18, all of whom are missing parts of their right forearm. They also have two other adopted daughters, Alyssa, 18, who also has Down syndrome, and Amelia, 4, who has an undiagnosed lesion on her leg.
The Clarks said while others might consider their family a burden, they consider their children to be blessings.