The simplest joys in life are the ones we take for granted, and the smallest gestures can make the biggest impact. Meeting a sports idol or scoring just one touchdown can change the course of a life forever. Sometimes, just being involved in the things our friends around us are doing is good enough, too.
When Hailey Dawson walked into Orioles Park in 2015, she set off on a mission. Once you realize that Hailey is just like every other 8-year-old girl, and maybe a little bit stronger than her age would lead you to believe, you’ll completely forget that she wears a prosthetic on her right hand.
Hailey was born with Poland syndrome, a rare birth defect that causes the chest muscle to under develop. The same can happen for the hand on that same side of the body, as is the case for Hailey.
Did that stop Hailey from chasing her dreams and being just like everyone else? Heck no.
On Sunday at Angel Stadium, home of outfielder Mike Trout and the Los Angeles Angels, the 8-year-old completed her “Journey to 30,” and she now owns a Guinness World Record as she became the first person to throw out a first pitch at all 30 Major League Baseball stadiums.
Hailey’s journey started in 2015, when she threw the first pitch of her journey to her favorite player, former Baltimore Orioles shortstop Manny Machado, who now plays for the Los Angeles Dodgers.
After her goal of attending all 30 MLB ballparks went viral, teams began lining up to have the ambitious little girl come to their stadium next, and over the next three years, Hailey’s “Journey to 30” was underway.
The highlight of Hailey’s journey? She threw the ceremonial first pitch of Game 4 at the 2017 World Series.
“Hailey’s hope was to visit all the ballparks and throw a strike. To have fun,” Yong Dawson, Hailey’s mom, said. “For me, it was to spread the awareness of Poland syndrome and how easily accessible the robotic hand is.”
Hailey’s online following will now allow her family to continue to promote Hailey’s intense spirit and work to make affordable prosthetics more attainable for people who need them the most.
Prosthetic hands, depending on the degree of technology and material used, can cost upwards of $100,000. With the help of the University of Nevada, Las Vegas’ College of Engineering, Hailey’s 3D printed hand was adjusted over time to fit her, and it only cost a few hundred dollars to make.
“People stare at [my hand] all the time,” Hailey said. “And I’m just like, ‘lalalalalala'”
This journey might be over, but good luck trying to slow this incredible girl down any time soon.