A 7-year-old girl with a specially designed 3D-printed hand is on course to fulfil her dream of throwing the first pitch at every Major League Baseball park.
Born with a rare genetic disorder that left her missing three fingers, baseball fan Hailey Dawson and her family are hoping to raise awareness, break records and show that children who rely on prosthetics can achieve the impossible – and MLB's biggest teams are helping her achieve that goal.
Dawson suffers from Poland Syndrome – a disorder that impacts one in every 20,000 babies and can can lead to the underdevelopment or absence of muscles on one side of the body. This can cause abnormalities in the chest, shoulder, arm and hand on the relevant side.
In Dawson's case, the pointer, middle and ring finger are all missing from her right hand. Thanks to a lightweight, low-cost 3D-printed prosthetic, however, Dawson is fully capable of doing just about anything her friends can – including throwing a baseball.
According to The Daily Dot, the prosthetic, created by researchers at Las Vegas' University of Nevada, took several years to create and went through multiple prototypes to find a suitably comfortable hand. While Dawson now has six to choose from – all created using 3D-printed plastic designs and held together with fishing line – the University of Nevada researchers are continuing work on the project to add further upgrades and improve her quality of life.
Dawson, however, isn't waiting around, and her story went viral on social media on Thursday (7 September) after she starred in a Bleacher Report video that showcased her first and second 'first pitches' at a Baltimore Orioles game in 2015, and a Washington Nationals game earlier this year.
Bleacher Report's original tweet and a separate tweet by user @NatsSquid have racked up over 180,000 likes and almost 70,000 retweets at time of writing. This caught the attention of some of MLB's biggest names, including the Mariners, New York Mets, Philadelphia Phillies, Boston Red Sox and more, with each team hoping to help Dawson claim the Guinness World Record for the most first pitches in history.