Hailey Dawson of Las Vegas loves baseball, and she had a dream – to throw out the first pitch at a major league baseball game. And on Saturday, her dream came true, and it was bigger than she could have ever imagined.
Hailey was born with a rare birth defect called Poland Syndrome, which left her with only a thumb and little finger on her right hand. Scientists at the nearby UNLV created a prosthetic hand that allows her to throw a baseball. As Sport Techie detailed, the prosthetics that she wears are created with a Stratasys 3D printer.
She has six different hands that she wears, including a white presidential one that she wore for a visit to the White House and a visit with Barack Obama. One of the big advantages of 3D printing is the ability to quickly produce updated models, a necessity for a growing child.
“Additive manufacturing has made it possible to provide low-cost prosthetic devices for children like Hailey,” Brendan O’Toole of UNLV told TechCrunch. “We can now make a few measurements of a child’s hand, process them through our custom design tool that generates 37 CAD models in a few minutes, and then have printed parts ready the next day.”
After the Sports Techie story broke, a video on the sports site Bleacher Report outlined her dream of throwing out the first pitch at all 30 MLB ballparks. The video quickly went viral, and invitations from major league clubs from across the country began pouring in. After throwing out first pitches for the Orioles and Nationals games, the call came. She was invited to The Big Show.
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When she got off the plane in Houston, there were hundreds of people there to greet her. “She was shocked,” Yong Dawson, Hailey’s mother, told Yahoo Sports. Before the game, Hailey scored some swag and got to meet several baseball legends, including Mariano Rivera and Justin Verlander.
Sporting a brand-new gold and blue hand emblazoned with “Vegas Strong” and “UNLV,” Hailey threw the first pitch to Astros second baseman Jose Altuve and the Houston crowd erupted.
Hailey had thrown at the first two ballparks underhanded, but this time she really wanted to try a proper overhand pitch. “We want her to throw it underhand. But she’s got it in her head to throw overhand,” her mother said. “She wants to so bad.”
Hailey opted for an underhand toss, but with 27 more MLB stadiums on her list, she’ll have plenty of chances to try it out.