5-year-old Hailey Dawson, a huge baseball fan, got to throw out the ceremonial first pitch at the Baltimore Orioles’ series finale against the Oakland Athletics on Monday. This is a once-in-a-lifetime experience for anyone, let alone a young kid, but what made Hailey’s pitch even more extraordinary was what she used to throw the ball to the Orioles’ Manny Machado.
“Hailey, a young girl from Las Vegas, was born with a rare disease called Poland Syndrome, which affects one to three newborns per 100,000. It is a disorder in which affected individuals are born with missing or abnormal muscles on one side of the chest wall, and many affected are born with abnormalities of the hand, which may involve shortened or partially fused fingers.
Calling it her ‘special hand,’ Hailey’s right hand is not fully developed, and she was born with a ‘tiny pinky and thumb and little nubbins for middle fingers,’ according to her mother, Yong Dawson.
But Hailey wanted to play baseball.
Prosthetics can be very expensive, especially for someone who is growing up and will eventually need new sizes. So, Yong turned to a 3-D printer in an attempt to have a more affordable version of a prosthetic hand made. When the first version was too stiff and difficult for Hailey to move, Yong had another idea, and she turned to University of Nevada, Las Vegas’ engineering students.
Using a 3-D printer, UNLV students designed a functional hand for Hailey.”
Operated by wrist movement (wrist goes down, the fingers grasp; wrist goes up, the fingers release), it’s what allowed Hailey to sink the ball across home plate like a champ!