Hailey Dawson is a 7-year-old baseball fan from Nevada who was born with only three fingers on her right hand, due to a rare congenital disorder called Poland syndrome. But any limitations that come with that are no match for Hailey's spirit — or her love for baseball. This diminutive superfan was able to do what so many only dream of: she thew the ceremonial first pitch for a World Series game! And she did it with a prosthetic, 3-D printed hand. This is a story about cutting-edge and a young girl's heart, enthusiasm, and pure love of the game. It's the feel-good story you need right now.
Hailey got her first robotic hand back in 2014.
Thanks to the engineering department at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, Hailey has had a series of 3-D printed, robotic hands. Her current one was made especially for the World Series pitch — and just might be the coolest bionic hand ever made. Hailey wears it with her characteristic fierceness.
With the confidence that her prosthetic has given her, Hailey has a goal: to throw the first pitch at all 30 Major League ballparks in the U.S.
She started throwing first pitches at UNLV games after being fitted for her first hand. When she set her sights on every ballpark in the league, MLB answered the call. Many teams tweeted out invites for Hailey to come pitch. She had thrown two MLB first pitches when the World Series came calling. Hailey’s mom, Yong Dawson, explained what it was like to receive that invitation: “I started crying. Who gets to do that? My daughter. She gets to do that.”
Hailey's story has caught the attention of people all over the world.
The hand itself is a marvel of modern medicine and engineering, but it’s the fierce and charming little girl wearing it who really captured hearts far and wide. And all of that was before the World Series pitch! Hailey had already been inspiring people with her determination and fearlessness — and she was about to get so much more famous.
Her World Series pitch put Hailey and her bionic hand on the world stage.
Hailey and her family were greeted by crowds of people and reporters when they landed in Houston ahead of the first pitch. It must have been an overwhelming scene for a 7-year-old! But she handles the attention with her characteristic aplomb. Her bionic hand has been a huge source of confidence for her, according to her mother.
Hailey was a special guest for her flight home from Houston.
YouTube/United Airlines via Storyful
United Airlines First Officer Eric Gaffney was born without his right hand. He was so inspired by Dawson’s story that he had to meet her. He spent his lifetime with the dream of piloting 737s, not an easy task to accomplish with one hand. Gaffney overcame his obstacles and defied the many naysayers along his way — and he wanted to let Hailey know that she too can achieve her goals.
At age 7, Hailey is well on her way to reaching her ballpark goal. We can’t wait to see what she conquers next! As inspiring as this story already is, Hailey’s story has only just begun.