ANAHEIM -- An inspiring journey that began more than three years ago was completed at Angel Stadium on Sunday afternoon, as 8-year-old Hailey Dawson achieved her quest to become the first person to throw out the first pitch at all 30 Major League ballparks.Using her robotic right hand that was
ANAHEIM -- An inspiring journey that began more than three years ago was completed at Angel Stadium on Sunday afternoon, as 8-year-old Hailey Dawson achieved her quest to become the first person to throw out the first pitch at all 30 Major League ballparks.
Using her robotic right hand that was made by a 3-D printer, Hailey tossed out the ceremonial first pitch to Angels star Michael Trout. She was joined at the mound by former Angels left-hander Jim Abbott, who pitched in the Majors for 10 seasons despite being born without a right hand.
Prior to the game, Hailey called the completion of her Journey to 30 "amaaaaazing."
"It's really bittersweet," said Yong Dawson, her mother. "We're excited that it's come to this end, but it's also going to be sad to watch it end. We've been on the go for so long."
A native of Henderson, Nev., Hailey was born with Poland syndrome, which caused the fingers in her right hand to be underdeveloped. But she has not let the condition hold her back. In 2015, Hailey and her family began working with the College of Engineering at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, to design and print robotic hands to help her grab, grasp and throw.
"It's tremendous," Abbott said. "What she's done to create awareness for kids with limbs difference and the possibilities of using a prosthetic -- you can do anything you want to do. I love her message, I love her spirit and her energy, and we're happy to be a part of it."
Hailey's father, Greg, grew up in Maryland as a huge Orioles fan, so it was only fitting that the family began its journey at Camden Yards on Aug. 17, 2015. An invitation from the Nationals followed, and her story began to pick up even more steam after Bleacher Report tweeted out a short video spotlighting her goal of throwing out the first pitch at every Major League ballpark.
The video caught the attention of the remaining 28 teams, who were soon lining up to help her achieve her aim. Last fall, Hailey was even invited to throw out the first pitch at Game 4 of the World Series at Minute Maid Park.
"The Orioles were our favorite team, but as we've gone through this thing, it's kind of like we don't have a favorite team anymore," Yong Dawson said. "We root for all the different players that we've met along the way, and we like every team."
The Dawsons hope Hailey's story will help spread awareness about Poland syndrome and educate more families about the potential for affordable, 3-D printed prosthetics for children.
Maria Guardado covers the Angels for MLB.com. Follow her on Twitter and Facebook.