Yesterday, July 21, the Arizona Diamondbacks faced off against the Colorado Rockies at Chase Field in Phoenix. Before the teams took to the pitch, the crowd engaged in a pretty unique starting ritual. To throw the ceremonial first ball, a little girl stepped up to the plate. Hailey Dawson has been travelling the country pitching the first ball at a series of games. But Hailey’s no ordinary pitcher: she’s using her 3D printed hand to make the throw.
Occasionally, the world of additive manufacturing pitches us a wonderful story of human endeavor and kindness. Hailey’s mother developed the arm with the aid of University of Nevada Las Vegas. Hailey was born with Poland Syndrome, an unfortunate disorder where muscles across one side of the body do not develop properly. With the prosthetic hand, she can carry out all sorts of tasks without hindrance.
The game at Chase Field was Hailey’s 22nd pitch at a stadium event. She brings out a new 3D printed hand for each game, with the logo of the team she’s pitching to on it. She’s also made friends along the way and inspired other girls with similar conditions.
3D Printing the Arm
Yong Dawson saw someone throw the ceremonial ball at a game held in the university. “You know I bet Hailey could do that,” Yong said. And so, she began developing the model and has since become an inspiration to other moms with children who have disabilities. They frequently reach out to her for advice and she helps provide her expertise that they too can 3D print prosthetics with the aid of nearby universities.
According to the family, the materials to build an arm cost about $300, whereas traditional prosthetics can go for thousands of dollars. By partnering with universities, not just Yong, but other families can also save on costs.
The family has been busy on the trail supporting Hailey as she lights up every stadium. It can be exhausting but worthwhile. As for Hailey herself? She’s going down in the Guinness book of World Records as the first person in history to throw the ceremonial pitch at every Major League Baseball venue.