Hailey Dawson

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Hailey Dawson
Dawson in 2015
Dawson throwing out the first pitch
at Oriole Park, 2015
Born (2010-03-02) March 2, 2010 (age 8)
Henderson, Nevada
Nationality American
Known for Throwing out ceremonial first pitches in Major League Baseball stadiums using her 3D-printed robotic hand

Hailey Dawson (born March 2, 2010) is an American girl who has Poland syndrome. Born without a right pectoral muscle, she is missing three fingers on her right hand and has an underdeveloped pinky and thumb. At age 4, she was fitted with a 3D-printed robotic hand by the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, College of Engineering. She came to national prominence in 2017 when she expressed a desire to use her robotic hand to throw out the ceremonial first pitch in all 30 Major League Baseball stadiums. As of August 18, 2018, she has thrown out the first pitch in 28 stadiums,[1] including Game 4 of the 2017 World Series at Minute Maid Park in Houston, Texas. She has also been honored with dropping the puck at a 2018 Vegas Golden KnightsPhiladelphia Flyers hockey game.


Hailey Dawson was born in Henderson, Nevada, on March 2, 2010.[2][3][4] Her father, Greg, is a corrections officer for the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department, and her mother, Yong, is a photographer.[3][5] She has an older brother, Zach.[2][5]

Hailey was born with Poland syndrome, believed to have stemmed from a lack of blood supply at six to seven gestational weeks.[2] She is missing a right pectoral muscle and three fingers on her right hand; the pinky and thumb on her right hand are also underdeveloped.[2] Her left hand is fully functional.[6]

Robotic hand[edit]

The University of Nevada, Las Vegas, College of Engineering built a robotic hand for Dawson in response to a request from her mother, Yong.[7] With the cost of regular prosthetics exceeding $20,000, and the foreseeable need for Hailey to require new prosthetics as she grows, Yong sought a less expensive solution.[8] She found open-source designs for a 3D-printed prosthetic posted online by a South African organization called RoboHand, and asked the UNLV College of Engineering to produce one for her daughter.[8] The college agreed to take on both the project and the development costs.[3] After experimenting with several RoboHand designs, the college ended up designing their own robotic hand from scratch and printing it on their in-house 3D printer.[8]

While many students in the department worked on the project in its early stages, graduate student Maria Gerardi eventually became the chief designer of Dawson's robotic hand. As Dawson grows, Gerardi modifies the hand using computer software.[9] Dawson will likely need a new hand every year.[9]

The robotic hand is constructed from ABS plastic with rubber joints held together with a type of fishing wire.[3][8] It includes about 30 parts.[7] The hand does not operate on electronics, but on wrist movement: when Dawson flexes her wrist, the fingers grip; when she extends her wrist, the fingers uncurl.[9][10] In 2017 Gerardi added an adjustable thumb and fingertip ridges to help Dawson grip items better.[9] The hand is secured to her wrist with Velcro straps.[3][8] Per Hailey's request, the hand is fitted with an arm covering so she can collect autographs of players at the stadiums she visits.[9]

Each robotic hand takes about one week to make and costs $200 in components. Dawson's mother can easily "adjust tension screws or reattach fingers to joints" using a set of tools.[9]

Dawson uses the hand to grip and throw baseballs.[11] She throws the ball underhand.[12]

Ceremonial first pitches[edit]

Dawson throws out the first pitch to Manny Machado at Oriole Park, August 2015

Dawson made her first ceremonial first pitch at a UNLV Rebels baseball game in 2015 shortly after receiving her first 3D-printed robotic hand at age 5.[7] She then expressed a desire to throw out the first pitch at a Baltimore Orioles game, as her father, a Maryland native, had made the team a family favorite.[7] She appeared at Oriole Park at Camden Yards in August 2015.[10] Dawson next posted a request on Instagram to meet Bryce Harper, a fellow Las Vegas native, and in June 2017 threw out the first pitch to him at Nationals Park.[7]

In 2017 Dawson expressed a wish to throw out the first pitch at all 30 Major League Baseball stadiums. A September 2017 video report of her quest posted on Twitter by Bleacher Report went viral.[7][13] In response, many Major League teams extended invitations to her.[11] Major League Baseball also invited her to throw out the first pitch at Game 4 of the 2017 World Series at Minute Maid Park in Houston, Texas.[7]

Dawson began her "Journey to 30" quest to pitch in the remaining 27 stadiums during the 2018 Major League Baseball season with an appearance at Petco Park, home of the San Diego Padres, in late March.[14][15] As of August 18, she has thrown out the first pitch in a total of 28 baseball stadiums.[1] She plans to throw out the first pitch in her 30th ballpark, Angel Stadium, on September 16, 2018.[14][16] United Airlines flies her and family members to each stadium at no cost.[7]

For each stadium Dawson pitches at, the UNLV College of Engineering produces a 3D-printed robotic hand customized with the home team's logo and colors.[14][17][18] For Dawson's appearance in Game 4 of the 2017 World Series, Gerardi printed and hand-painted two models of the hand featuring the series' gold and blue logo.[9][14]

Other honors[edit]

In 2016 Dawson wore a 3D-printed robotic hand inscribed with the seal of the President of the United States when she toured the White House and met then-President Barack Obama.[19]

On February 11, 2018, Dawson was invited to drop the puck at a hockey game between the Vegas Golden Knights and Philadelphia Flyers.[20] Her customized 3D-printed hand sported the colors of the Golden Knights, and she also wore their jersey.[20] She threw out the first pitch for the opening night of UNLV Rebels baseball on February 16.[21]

Dawson was the recipient of the first Las Vegas Baseball Ambassador Award presented by the Society for American Baseball Research's Las Vegas chapter in February 2018.[22]


  1. ^ a b Clark, Dave (August 17, 2018). "Hailey Dawson to throw ceremonial first pitch Saturday before Giants-Reds at GABP". The Cincinnati Enquirer. Retrieved August 20, 2018. 
  2. ^ a b c d Footer, Alyson (October 28, 2017). "Girl with robotic hand throws inspiring first pitch". MLB.com. Retrieved July 1, 2018. 
  3. ^ a b c d e McCabe, Francis (November 9, 2014). "UNLV students, professors put mobility at young girl's fingertips". Las Vegas Review-Journal. Retrieved July 1, 2018. 
  4. ^ @Haileys_hand (March 2, 2018). "Let's make our favorite girl's day and wish her a Happy Birthday. Hailey is 8 today! I'll make sure she sees all your comments" (Tweet). Archived from the original on July 24, 2018. Retrieved July 24, 2018 – via Twitter. 
  5. ^ a b Haller, Sonja (September 13, 2017). "7 year old with robotic hand to throw first pitch at World Series". All the Moms. USA Today. Retrieved July 1, 2018. 
  6. ^ "Seven-Year-Old Hailey Dawson to Open Game 4 of World Series with 3D Printed Custom Prosthetic Hand from Stratasys". Business Wire. October 25, 2017. Retrieved July 3, 2018. 
  7. ^ a b c d e f g h Helfand, Betsy (October 21, 2017). "Las Vegas girl ready for World Series pitch". Las Vegas Review-Journal. Retrieved July 1, 2018. 
  8. ^ a b c d e Sodoma, Brian (November 5, 2014). "'My Special Hand'". University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Retrieved July 2, 2018. 
  9. ^ a b c d e f g Summers, Keyonna (October 27, 2017). "Handled: UNLV Student Builds Robohand for World Series". University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Retrieved July 1, 2018. 
  10. ^ a b Witherite, Olivia (August 16, 2015). "Special guest Hailey Dawson to throw out first pitch using Orioles-themed robotic hand". masn.com. Retrieved July 2, 2018. 
  11. ^ a b Clements, Ron (September 7, 2017). "MLB teams respond to 7-year-old girl's request to throw out unique first pitch". Sporting News. Retrieved July 1, 2018. 
  12. ^ Landers, Chris (October 28, 2018). "Watch 7-year-old Hailey Dawson throw out the first pitch with her 3D-printed right hand". MLB.com. Retrieved July 5, 2018. 
  13. ^ "7-year-old Hailey Dawson wants to throw out the first pitch at every MLB ballpark with her 3-D printed hand". Bleacher Report. September 7, 2017. Retrieved July 3, 2018. 
  14. ^ a b c d Bella, Cheryl (March 15, 2018). "Young Baseball Fan Starts 'Journey to 30' with Pitch for Padres". University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Retrieved July 1, 2018. 
  15. ^ "'Bionic girl' throws out first pitch at Padres game". WAVY-TV. April 2, 2018. Retrieved July 2, 2018. 
  16. ^ "8-year-old's first pitches raising awareness for rare disorder". fox2detroit.com. June 25, 2018. Retrieved July 2, 2018. 
  17. ^ "Hailey Dawson throws the first pitch at Saturday's game with a 3-D printed hand". Tribe Vibe. May 27, 2018. Retrieved July 2, 2018. 
  18. ^ Meckles, Jennifer (May 29, 2018). "Meet the girl with a Rockies prosthetic hand throwing out the first pitch Wednesday night". 9news.com. Retrieved July 1, 2018. 
  19. ^ Booton, Jen (July 10, 2017). "How A 3D-Printed Hand Is Enabling A Child To Pitch Across The MLB". Sport Techie. Retrieved July 1, 2018. 
  20. ^ a b "Las Vegas' Hailey Dawson drops puck at Golden Knights game". Las Vegas Review-Journal. February 11, 2018. Retrieved July 2, 2018. 
  21. ^ Booton, Jen (February 9, 2018). "Hailey Dawson, The Robotic-Hand Pitcher, To Drop Puck At NHL Game". Sport Technie. Retrieved July 2, 2018. 
  22. ^ "SABR Las Vegas chapter honors Hailey Dawson with ambassador award". Society for American Baseball Research. February 9, 2018. Retrieved July 1, 2018. 

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