A story about a kid dreaming about making his or her way onto a Major League Baseball field is nothing new. But a 7-year-old girl on her way to realizing that dream, well that’s pretty cool.
Hailey Dawson is a second-grader born with Poland Syndrome, a rare birth defect that left her without the pointer, middle and ring fingers on her right hand. After being contacted by Hailey’s mom, Dr. Mohamed Trabia and his team at the University of Nevada Las Vegas’s Department of Mechanical Engineering created a 3D-printed hand for Hailey and another young girl.
Surrounded by a father who coaches and a brother who plays baseball, Hailey began working on ways to use the hand to throw a ball. When she was five the Baltimore Orioles let her throw out the first pitch, which for most kids would have been enough of thrill.
But for Hailey, this lit a fire and inspired her to set a goal of throwing out a first pitch at every Major League Baseball park.
The Flexy Hand 2 created by UNLV, of which she has six for different applications, uses fishing line to move the fingers – opening and closing them as she flicks her wrist up and down. To grab the ball, she starts with her wrist in a downward position. Then she lifts her wrist up, causing her fingers to loosen and release the ball as she moves her hand towards the catcher.
UNLV researchers are examining ways to take the stress off the wrist without adding more weight to the hand.
In June Hailey threw out the first pitch at a Washington Nationals game, leading to a Bleacher Report article detailing Hailey’s dream.
It didn’t take long for the Minnesota Twins, Detroit Tigers, New York Mets, Milwaukee Brewers, Seattle Mariners, Oakland A’s and Boston Red Sox to issue a very special invitation. And you can bet there are many more on the way.
Hailey is using her Major League tour to raise awareness of Poland Syndrome. To track her progress and see some truly awesome photos, check out her Twitter account @Haileys_hand.