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'Just a little girl having fun': UNLV student takes pride in Hailey's World Series pitch

Hailey Dawson gears up to throw out the first pitch at a Baltimore Orioles game. The 7-year-old Las Vegas will perform the same task Saturday, Oct. 28, 2017, at Game 4 of the World Series in Houston. (Photo provided)

A Las Vegas family is preparing for a trip of a lifetime.

This weekend, the family of 7-year-old Hailey Dawson will travel to Houston. Hailey, who was born with Poland Syndrome and is missing three fingers in her right hand, will throw out the first pitch for Game 4 of the 2017 World Series.

It’s a dream made possible by a student in the UNLV engineering department who created a 3-D printed robotic hand for her.

“It makes you think that for yourself you can't have any excuses,” said UNLV student Maria Gerardi. “Because she's out there, strutting her stuff, doesn't have a care about anything. Just a little girl having fun.”

Hailey was born without a right pectoral muscle. When her mother contacted UNLV for help, Gerardi jumped at the chance. She's now designed eight hands for Hailey, changing as she grows – including two for the World Series.

RELATED | UNLV Engineers help girl throw Orioles' first pitch with prosthetic arm

“I'm not an emotional person, but I get so excited when I think about it,” Gerardi said. “How many people can say that? That what they've been working on will be seen by millions of people?”

Hailey has some experience on the big stage, having already tossed out pitches for the Baltimore Orioles and Washington Nationals. In fact, she has invitations to make the first pitch next year by every team in Major League Baseball.

As for Gerardi, Hailey's hand is just the beginning. This 3-D technology will be used to help other kids, too.

“I actually want to start a nonprofit. That's the goal,” she said.

As for cost, some prosthetics can run upwards of $20,000. Using the 3-D printer, Hailey's hand is closer to $200.

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