8-Year-Old Makes History With Her 3D Printed Hand

Diply 24 Sep 2018

But it was a summer three years in the making, from her first first pitch to her last.

Twitter | @haileys_hand

And you could easily say her journey started even earlier, which is pretty incredible for someone so young.

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Even more incredible is this little girl's strength of character.

Instagram | @haileys_hand

Hailey was born with Poland syndrome, which left her without a right pectoral muscle and three fingers on her right hand, with her thumb and pinky fingers also underdeveloped.

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As a young girl into sports, Hailey's parents wanted to make sure she could stay involved as much as possible.

Instagram | @haileys_hand

So, when Hailey was four, her mom turned to UNLV's College of Engineering to design and build a new, non-electronic robo-hand for Hailey.

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The department eagerly took up the challenge and came up with a custom 3D printed design that Hailey can manipulate with her wrist.

Instagram | @haileys_hand

It took some trial and error, but they did come up with a model that allows her to do general grasping things, like holding a bag or writing.

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It was also good enough to get her onto a big league baseball mound when she was just five years old.

Instagram | @haileys_hand

Hailey's journey toward her goal officially began back in 2015, when she got to throw a first pitch to her favorite player, Baltimore's Manny Machado. A first pitch for the Washington Nationals — and fellow Vegas native Bryce Harper — followed in June 2017.

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Hailey has stayed in contact with the UNLV team, working in particular with engineering grad student Maria Gerardi.

UNLV | UNLV

They've refined the design over the years, adding an adjustable thumb and fingertip ridges as well as resizing the hands. Each hand costs about $200 in supplies.

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Compare that to traditional prosthetics, which can cost $20,000 or more, and it's easy to see why 3D printing was the way to go for a growing girl.

Instagram | @haileys_hand

And even more so when you consider that she'd need one styled for each of the Major League Baseball's 30 teams.

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In September 2017, Hailey's journey to 30 began in earnest.

Twitter | @BleacherReport

That's when Bleacher Report put together a short video featuring Hailey and her dream. When Bleacher Report tweeted out their video, it seemed like the entire world stood up and took notice.

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Most importantly, MLB teams started showing interest. 

Twitter | @Mariners

Offers and invitations poured in on the Twitter thread — and it wasn't just the teams, but airlines and hotels offering to help Hailey achieve her dream. The generosity on display was downright heart-melting.

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Soon, every team in the majors — and many minor league teams as well — invited Hailey to come out and throw a first pitch for them. 

Twitter | @haileys_hand

And for a lot of teams in the September doldrums, this was the sort of news their fans could get excited about.

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But before her journey to 30 could even be scheduled, let alone get going, she received another very special invitation: to the World Series.

Instagram | @haileys_hand

That's right, for Game 4 of the October classic, Hailey found herself on baseball's biggest stage.

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It didn't take long for Hailey to become a well known figure in major league circles, and she got to meet plenty of her heroes who were just as happy to meet her as she was to meet them.

Twitter | @haileys_hand

Among the more special encounters, Hailey got to meet legendary one-handed pitcher Jim Abbott.

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She also had the opportunity to cross over sports, dropping the puck for a ceremonial face-off at a Vegas Golden Knights game.

Twitter | @GoldenKnights

The hometown hero stirred every heart in the stands!

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And when the new season kicked off in March 2018, Hailey's plan was put to the test. 

Instagram | @haileys_hand

Despite all the help being offered, visiting 28 more ballparks in one summer had to be as daunting as it was thrilling.

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The first pitch of her big summer came in San Diego, for the Padres' third game of the new season.

Twitter | @haileys_hand

With just a handful of games in April and May, the miles really started to pile up in June.

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Half of her stops (14 ballparks!) came in June and July, including three consecutive nights spread between Milwaukee, Chicago, and St. Louis. 

Instagram | @haileys_hand

That's a hectic schedule for anyone, let alone an 8-year-old.

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However, meeting all the big league players who were just as excited to meet her must have helped.

Twitter | @haileys_hand

She sure picked up an impressive array of autographs along the way!

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What's more, she found herself doling out the odd autograph herself!

Twitter | @jp_crawford

But that's bound to happen when you're living a dream and inspiring so many people to chase their own.

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Hailey even managed to make it north of the border to toss a first pitch on MLB's lone international stop in Toronto.

Twitter | @BlueJays
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Along the way, you'd see one thing in addition to Hailey's pitching, and that's her dab, something she does just for fun.

Twitter | @DBacks

"People tell her that the dab is so yesterday but she says she doesn't care, she loves doing it," her Twitter account explained. "She's secure in who she is, has so much confidence, and has lots of fun."

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Finally, Hailey's journey to 30 came to a conclusion on September 16, when she threw a first pitch to the Angels' Mike Trout.

Twitter | @haileys_hand

Just like that, she made history, becoming the first person to throw out a first pitch at all the MLB parks.

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To commemorate her big achievement, the folks at Louisville Slugger made her a one-of-a-kind bat with each team's logo on it.

Twitter | @haileys_hand

Not that she'll need a bat to remember her summer, but talk about a cool gift!

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She also has an incredible array of hands, one printed up for each stop on her journey, and signed by the team's stars.

Instagram | @haileys_hand

Most importantly, she proved she could meet a lofty goal, with no sign of quitting along the way.

Way to go, Hailey!

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