Hailey Dawson comes from a baseball-loving family, and she has set a lofty goal for herself: to throw out the first pitch at every Major League Baseball park.
The 7-year-old was born with Poland Syndrome, a rare birth defect that left her right hand without a pointer, ring, and middle finger. Her mother, Yong Dawson, approached the University of Nevada Las Vegas’ engineering department, and asked if they could make a robotic hand for her daughter. Using fishing wire and a 3D printer, they created a hand just for Hailey.
Hailey’s dad coaches baseball and her brother plays, and Yong told Today “there’s always baseball on TV at our house,” so it’s no surprise that Hailey has taught herself how to throw a ball, using her robotic hand. Word is spreading about her quest to throw first pitches at every park, and over the past two years, she’s wowed crowds at Nationals Park and Oriole Park at Camden Yards.
This week, Hailey has been invited by several teams, including the Minnesota Twins, Detroit Tigers, New York Mets, Milwaukee Brewers, Seattle Mariners, and Oakland A’s, to throw first pitches, and she’s excited to not only participate, but also spread awareness of Poland Syndrome. “She doesn’t think she’s different,” Yong told Today. “She says she has a special hand. When I tell her that other people are inspired by her, she says, ‘I’m just being me.'” Watch a clip of Hailey throwing the first pitch at an Orioles game two years ago below. Catherine Garcia