Hailey Dawson likes to be photographed with her 3D-printed hand front and center. Sometimes she rolls it into a fist and bends her biceps.Other times, she makes it as flat as a pancake, with her elbow bent into a classic pat.
However she holds it, the point is that it’s there and she wants you to look at it.
She has also drawn attention among baseball fans across the country, throwing her first pitch at every major league baseball stadium to raise awareness about the need for cheap prosthetics. After she pitched at Angel Stadium in Anaheim on Sunday afternoon, the 30th and last stadium on her list, she completed what her family is calling her Journey to 30.
When haley was born, her right hand came out differently from her left.There is a little finger and a thumb on the right, but the middle three fingers are missing — her "nubbins” as her family calls them. Poland syndrome,her genetic condition at birth suppressed the development of her chest muscles.This makes the affected side of the body smaller and, in some cases, leads to finger deformities.
Journey to 30
Hailey's journey began when she threw the first pitch at a Baltimore Orioles baseball game. After tossing the ball to her favorite player, Manny Machado, the two celebrated with a fist bump. The experience made her so happy, her mom wrote to a second team to see if she could do it all over again, this time with the Washington Nationals. It took a little while for it to be arranged, but she eventually got an in for Game 4 of the 2017 World Series Game.
Then Bleacher Report picked up the story and the remaining 28 stadiums clambered for her to visit. United offered to cover the cost of her flights.
Making a robotic hand
A prosthetic costs between $5,000 and $20,000.More complex prosthetics, such as the myoelectric arm, which is controlled by muscle movements, cost as much as $100,000.
For families with kids like Hailey, that cost increases over time. As children grow, they'll need modifications to or replacements for their initial prosthetic. Physical therapists and regular wear is similarly expensive. Unfortunately, most health insurance companies restrict how much a patient can spend on their devices.
Difference as strength
Hayley was brought up to be open about her genetic condition.If someone asks or stares at her too long, her parents encourage her to answer questions and make her feel comfortable.
In fact, haley found it funny when people just stared at it.
After their long journey together, Yong sees her daughter's story as a lesson in tenacity.
"The Journey to 30 means that an 8-year-old born with a birth defect can do what no one else ever has. All it takes is the courage to ask and the persistence to keep pushing through the challenges," she said.