Valley girls bond over their robotic hands - FOX5 Vegas - KVVU

Valley girls bond over their robotic hands

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While Hailey Dawson was getting attention from all over the world, in the valley, she was becoming an inspiration to another girl. (Roger Bryner / FOX5) While Hailey Dawson was getting attention from all over the world, in the valley, she was becoming an inspiration to another girl. (Roger Bryner / FOX5)
LAS VEGAS (FOX5) -

On Friday, seven-year-old Hailey Dawson threw out the first pitch at UNLV Baseball's home opener. It capped off a busy few months for the girl, who spent Sunday night dropping the puck for the Vegas Golden Knights and threw out the first pitch at Game 4 of the World Series last year. 

"It's probably the coolest experience we've had as a family," Hailey's mom, Yong Dawson said. 

Hailey was born with a rare birth defect called Poland Syndrome. Because of it, her right hand didn't fully develop. About three years ago, students at the UNLV College of Engineering were able to 3D-print a robotic hand for Hailey, helping her play one of her favorite sports: baseball. 

It didn't take long for Hailey's goal to throw out a first pitch in every MLB ballpark to go viral. But while she was getting attention from all over the world, in the valley, she was becoming an inspiration to another girl. 

"I love seeing her games when she throws it, I've been trying to practice that!" Sophia Herrera said with a laugh. Sophia is also seven years old and had a similar birth defect, limiting the growth of her right hand. 

"My regular hand, it's small! And I can still do things with it, but I don't have my other fingers," Sophia said. 

About a year ago, Sophia's mom saw a news story about Hailey, and called up UNLV's College of Engineering. Soon, Sophia was following in Hailey's footsteps. 

But creating Sophia's hand was a challenge for UNLV students like Maria Gerardi. The team wasn't able to use the template they had created for Hailey's robotic hands. 

"Hailey's hand, she has the whole palm and it is flatter, where Sophia's is more like a fist," Gerardi said. She added that for Hailey's hand, they were able to use an example they found online, but for Sophia's the team had to start from scratch. Still, after months, Sophia had a 3D printed robotic hand, just like Hailey's. 

"It helps me like grab things, like it feels like I have two hands!" Sophia said.  

"I have a lot of pride for my girl and I'm happy for her! When she has that hand there, it gives her confidence to do more," Sophia's mother, Michele Herrera said.  

But Sophia didn't just get a new hand, she got a new friend. It didn't take long for Sophia and Hailey to bond over their hands. 

"They're meant to know each other, meant to be friends," Michele Herrera said. "Hailey and Sophia, they're two of a kind!"

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