Augustana baseball pitcher uses theft of prosthetic arm to raise awareness


Emma Forster

Augustana University, home of Parker Hanson and the Augustana Vikings baseball team.

Emma Forster, Staff Writer

The lack of his left arm was never enough to stop Augustana University baseball pitcher Parker Hanson from pursuing and excelling at his favorite sport. However, recent events have made it more difficult for Hanson to continue overcoming this obstacle through the 2021 baseball season.
Hanson’s backpack, containing his prosthetic arm and all of its necessary attachments, was stolen from his car during the first weekend of May. While the arm’s attachments were returned just two days after the robbery, Hanson’s arm remained missing until this week, when a worker at a local recycling plant uncovered it at the facility.
Despite the excitement felt by Hanson to have found his arm, he is still in need of a new prosthetic due to the damage done to the old one.
“[The arm] suffered some damage and is in rough shape,” said Hanson in a Facebook post immediately after the recovery of the prosthetic.
The week between the incident and the reappearance of his arm was anything but uneventful for Hanson. His story took off, with news articles featuring him in everything from the Washington Post to People Magazine, garnering a nationwide response and call to action.
The hefty price of replacement, around $20,000, made others even more sympathetic toward Hanson’s situation. Unfortunately, NCAA restrictions required Hanson to receive approval in order to accept any donations during the baseball season. Hanson received this approval just days before finding his arm, with the resulting fundraiser raising even more than the cost of replacement.
Shriner Children’s Hospital in the Twin Cities, along with the organization NubAbility, will donate a new prosthetic to Hanson free of charge and all monetary donations previously donated to Hanson will be handed over to the hospital to help children in need of prosthetics.
“I am very excited for the opportunity to donate back to the Shriners and to a great organization in NubAbility,” Hanson said in a Facebook post. “I’m extremely grateful for everyone who has donated so far, and know that you are going to be making a big impact on a lot of kids’ lives along with mine!”
Hanson is using this opportunity to speak out about athletes with disabilities and bring awareness to the problems kids like him face every day.
“[Children with disabilities are] going to be told their whole life, like I was, that you are not able to do something or you can’t play sports,” said Hanson in an interview with the Washington Post. “But as long as you have a good support system saying that you can do whatever you put your mind to, you can achieve it.”
The Augustana Vikings baseball team finished the regular season with a record of 31-9 and ranked 19th in the nation, hoping to make a run for another Division II national championship in the postseason. With the aid of Shriner Children’s and NubAbility, Hanson is excited to finish out his senior year on the team.