LAS VEGAS – The ceremonial first pitch is a time-honored tradition in baseball. For Game 4 of the World Series between the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Houston Astros on Saturday in Houston, a young girl from Nevada is ready for the challenge – using a 3-D printed hand.
It's warm-up time for Hailey Dawson, a 7-year-old with big league potential. The second grader was born with a rare condition known as Poland syndrome, leaving her without three fingers on her right hand.
With a traditional prosthetic potentially costing thousands of dollars, Hailey's mom, Yong, turned for help near their hometown, reaching out to the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.
"I emailed UNLV engineering, and they responded. We met up and, you know, they accepted the challenge," Yong told CBS News' Carter Evans.
Brendan O'Toole, chairman of the mechanical engineering department, said he and his team get a lot of requests, "but this one was different." They got to work using a 3-D printer. Several prototypes and fittings later, Hailey got her first hand three years ago just in time for Halloween.
"They had the little pumpkin thing for her so she was able to hold it and walk around with it," Yong said. She said that was awesome, but "the coolest part for me though was watching her hold her dad's hand."
"We've worked on a lot of fun projects but this one, to actually give it to somebody who's using it and needs it right away and appreciates, it's great," O'Toole said.
This is a family of baseball fanatics, so the next stop naturally was the mound.
"Initially we looked at it as a functional type thing. But it slowly became a confidence builder for her," Yong said.
Hailey began throwing out first pitches at UNLV games before she got a shot at the majors with the Baltimore Orioles, her favorite team.
"She's sometimes shy. But when she gets that hand on -- she knows and expects that people are just drawn to it," Yong said.
When Hailey set out to conquer every ballpark in the league, dozens of teams answered the call, many tweeting out invites.
Then last month, the World Series came calling.
"I started crying. Who gets to do that? My daughter. She gets to do that," Yong said. "When she does it, she talks about Poland syndrome, she talks about her hand. It's that awareness for her. It's that awareness for us."
UNLV is fitting Hailey with a special hand just for the occasion. She'll unveil it come game time.
"I mean first pitch at the World Series, that's a lot of pressure," Evans said to O'Toole.
"Yeah. Yeah," O'Toole said.
"On you too! That thing better work!" Evans said.
"Yeah, we're actually -- we're probably sending a backup hand," O'Toole said. "Just in case it's always good to have a backup."
Before the players even take the field, tomorrow's World Series game will already have a champion.
UNLV is raising funds to help Hailey raise awareness about Poland syndrome and research 3-D printed prosthetic hands for kids.
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