Eight-year-old Hailey Dawson is halfway to her goal of throwing the first pitch at every Major League Baseball stadium. She has thrown the first pitch at 15 out of 30 MLB stadiums and expects to complete her mission by mid-September of this year, Fox 9 reported.
Dawson was born with a rare birth defect called Poland Syndrome, which affected the development of her right hand.
Engineers at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas specially made a 3-D printed robotic hand for Dawson. She’s aiming not only to complete every baseball fan’s dream, but to also raise awareness about affordable 3-D printed medical devices and to prove that her disability does not obstruct her from achieving her dreams.
“If I can do it, you can do it,” Dawson said, after throwing the first pitch on Monday night at the Twins’ Target Field Stadium in Minneapolis.
Her journey began when she was 5, throwing out the first pitch at a University of Nevada, Las Vegas Rebels game. She threw out her first MLB pitch at a Baltimore Orioles game back in 2015.
The Bleacher Report caught wind of Dawson’s story last fall and tweeted about it. They received an overwhelmingly positive response from MLB teams and fans alike. Teams tweeted back saying they would be honored to have Dawson throw out the first pitch at their stadium.
She even threw out the first pitch at game four of the World Series last season.
Dawson’s “Journey to 30” has inspired families from all across the country. A local Las Vegas family contacted the University of Nevada’s engineering department, and students are now working to build a custom 3-D printed hand for their daughter, too. Others have reached out to their local colleges and universities to work with and improve their engineering department’s 3-D printing programs.
Dawson’s mom describes how the robotic hand has truly changed her daughter’s life.
“She shines now, you know, and as a mom you couldn’t ask for anything more,” Yong Dawson, told Fox 9. “She doesn’t hide her hand from anybody. It’s just something she has and she has no problem sharing it.”
Yong Dawson also said it is important to raise awareness for both the disease and the accessibility of 3-D printed medical devices.
“I get to talk about Poland Syndrome, which is what she was born with,” she said. “And I get to talk about this robotic hand she has. It’s out there, people know about it but they don’t know how to get access to it.”
Dawson begins the second half of her journey by throwing out the first pitch at Comerica Park, home of the Detroit Tigers, on June 25.