It’s a rare and memorable moment when someone gets the honor of throwing out the first pitch at an MLB game, but for eight-year-old Hailey Dawson, it has become an occasion she has repeated many times. In fact, she has just set a record for pitching for every single MLB team, but the reason why is the really amazing part.

Dawson has spent the last year touring MLB ballparks across the nation in an effort to meet her goal of pitching the first ball for every team and she has just achieved her dream. Besides her own drive and persistence, Dawson also has the UNLV engineering department to thank for her record-setting year. They are the ones that designed and outfitted the eight-year-old with a customized, 3D printed prosthetic hand.

Due to a rare birth defect called Poland syndrome, Dawson was born with only a pinky and a thumb on her right hand, but she didn’t let that stop her from proving to the world that she can do anything. Prosthetics can be very costly, but Dawson’s mom, Yong Dawson approached the College of Engineering at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas for help after learning that 3D printing cut down on costs. For each baseball game, UNLV customized her hand with the team’s logo.

Fans have been following along on Dawson’s quest under the hashtag #Journeyto30 on Twitter. With her 30th opening pitch for the Los Angeles Angels, she completed her goal standing alongside Jim Abbott, a left-handed pitcher, who played 10 seasons in the majors, despite being born without a right hand.

“It’s tremendous,” Abbott told Yahoo! Sports. “What she’s done to create awareness for kids with limbs difference and the possibilities of using a prosthetic — you can do anything you want to do. I love her message, I love her spirit and her energy, and we’re happy to be a part of it.”

Dawson and her mom hoped to use her record-breaking journey to raise awareness about the low cost of 3D printed prosthetics for those in need.

—Shahrzad Warkentin

Featured photo: 2246794 via Pixabay



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