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Young Baseball Fan Starts “Journey to 30” with Pitch for Padres

March 31 game marks 8-year-old Las Vegas girl Hailey Dawson's first Major League Baseball park pitch in 2018 using her UNLV 3D-printed hand.
Business and Community  |  Mar 15, 2018  |  By Cheryl Bella
Media Contact: Cheryl Bella, 702-895-3965 (o), 702-499-3930 (c), cheryl.bella@unlv.edu

UNLV Engineering built Hailey Dawson a 3D-printed hand for her World Series pitch last year, and will create more for her "Journey to 30" Major League Baseball tour this summer. (Josh Hawkins/ UNLV Creative Services)

On March 31, Hailey Dawson will throw out the first pitch at Petco Park for the San Diego Padres with her UNLV-created, 3D-printed hand. Her goal is to throw out the first pitch at all 30 Major League Baseball (MLB) parks. She has previously pitched for the Washington Nationals, Baltimore Orioles, and was even invited to throw the first pitch at the fourth game of the 2017 World Series.

Born with a rare birth defect called Poland Syndrome, Hailey has an underdeveloped pectoral muscle and missing or underdeveloped digits on her right hand. Her parents contacted UNLV’s Howard R. Hughes College of Engineering for help and, over the past three years, students and faculty have designed multiple 3D-printed hands which have enabled Hailey to grab, grasp, and even throw a baseball.

“We like the idea of a community-based design where we’re using our research and resources to help someone,” said mechanical engineering professor Brendan O’Toole, who continues to work on the project. “That, coupled with 3D-printing improvements in the last couple of years, made for some pretty good design opportunities. And it can make all the difference in the world of making Hailey more comfortable or safe.”

“Initially we looked at it like a functional type thing, but slowly it became a confidence builder for her,” explains Yong Dawson, Hailey’s mother.

Now Hailey and her family are using their love of baseball to draw attention to Poland Syndrome and cost-effective solutions for children. The first pitch Hailey threw out was at a University of Nevada, Las Vegas Rebels game when she was five years old. Last fall, when the Bleacher Report picked up Hailey’s story and tweeted out a video asking MLB teams if they would help her meet her goal of throwing out the first pitch at all 30 parks, the response was overwhelmingly positive. Hailey is currently scheduled to throw out the first pitch at 23 MLB parks between now and fall 2018, with additional teams still being scheduled.

Hailey’s story has already inspired others. A local Las Vegas family, the Herreras, heard about Hailey on the news, contacted the college, and now UNLV engineering students are working with their daughter too, and building custom 3D-printed hands. Out-of-state followers online who have seen Hailey’s posts have been moved to contact their own local colleges and are working with their university’s engineering departments.

You can follow Hailey’s adventure on Facebook at @unlvengineering, on Twitter at @haileys_hand and @unlvengineering, and on Instagram at @haileys_hand using the hashtags #journeyto30, #haileyshand, and #unlvengineering.

“Journey to 30” Hailey Dawson 2018 First Pitch Schedule

Teams and games confirmed as of April 4, 2018. Schedule subject to change.

DATE HOME TEAM BALLPARK AWAY TEAM GAME TIME
3/31/18 San Diego Padres Petco Park Milwaukee Brewers 5:40 PM PDT
4/8/18 San Francisco Giants ATT Park Los Angeles Dodgers 1:05 PM PDT
4/28/18 Chicago Cubs Wrigley Field Milwaukee Brewers 1:20 PM CDT
5/5/18 Texas Rangers Globe Life Park Boston Red Sox 7:05 PM CDT
5/26/18 Cleveland Indians Progressive Field Houston Astros 7:15 PM EDT
5/30/18 Colorado Rockies Coors Field San Francisco Giants 6:40 PM MDT
6/3/18 Seattle Mariners Safeco Field Tampa Bay Rays 1:10 PM PDT
6/7/18 Oakland As Oakland Alameda Coliseum Kansas City Royals 7:05 PM PDT
6/11/18 Milwaukee Brewers Miller Park Chicago Cubs 7:10 PM CDT
6/12/18 Chicago White Sox Guaranteed Rate Field Cleveland Indians 7:10 PM CDT
6/13/18 St Louis Cardinals Busch Stadium San Diego Padres 7:15 PM CDT
6/19/18 Minnesota Twins Target Field Boston Red Sox 7:00 PM CDT
6/25/18 Detroit Tigers Comerica Park Oakland Athletics 3:10 PM EDT
7/1/18 Philadelphia Phillies Citizens Bank Park Washington Nationals 1:35 PM EDT
7/3/18 New York Yankees Yankee Stadium Atlanta Braves 7:05 PM EDT
7/6/18 New York Mets Citi Field Tampa Bay Rays 7:10 PM EDT
7/9/18 Pittsburg Pirates PNC Park Washington Nationals 7:05 PM EDT
7/12/18 Boston Red Sox Fenway Park Toronto Blue Jays 7:10 PM PDT
7/21/18 Arizona Diamondbacks Chase Field Colorado Rockies 5:10 PM MST
7/27/18 Atlanta Braves SunTrust Park Los Angeles Dodgers 7:35 PM EDT
7/30/18 Los Angeles Dodgers Dodgers Stadium Milwaukee Brewers 7:10 PM PDT
8/7/18 Toronto Blue Jays Rogers Centre Boston Red Sox 7:07 PM EDT
8/9/18 Tampa Bay Rays Tropicana Field Baltimore Orioles 7:10 PM EDT
8/10/18 Miami Marlins Marlins Park New York Mets 7:10 PM EDT
8/18/18 Cincinnati Reds Great American Ballpark San Francisco Giants 7:10 PM EDT
8/25/18 Kansas City Royals Kauffman Stadium Cleveland Indians 6:15 PM CDT
9/16/18 Los Angeles Angels Angel Stadium Seattle Mariners 1:07 PM PDT