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Hamels, wife 'felt called to help' in gifting house

MLB.com @DKramer_

In the season of giving, Cole Hamels and his wife, Heidi, envisioned a way to be creative and contributive to a cause and mission that's been reflective of their charitable work for most of the past decade.

In an official ceremony on Tuesday, the Hamels donated their 32,000-square-foot house on Table Rock Lake near Branson, Mo., to the Barnabas Foundation, a non-profit charitable organization that provides life-changing experiences to individuals with special needs and chronic illnesses, as well as their siblings. The $9.75 million-listed house marked the largest donation ever received by the southwest Missouri-based organization.

In the season of giving, Cole Hamels and his wife, Heidi, envisioned a way to be creative and contributive to a cause and mission that's been reflective of their charitable work for most of the past decade.

In an official ceremony on Tuesday, the Hamels donated their 32,000-square-foot house on Table Rock Lake near Branson, Mo., to the Barnabas Foundation, a non-profit charitable organization that provides life-changing experiences to individuals with special needs and chronic illnesses, as well as their siblings. The $9.75 million-listed house marked the largest donation ever received by the southwest Missouri-based organization.

"There are tons of amazing charities in southwest Missouri. Out of all of these, Barnabas really pulled on our heartstrings," Hamels said in a statement. "Seeing the faces, hearing the laughter, reading the stories of the kids they serve; there is truly nothing like it. Barnabas makes dreams come true, and we felt called to help them in a big way."

The genesis for Hamels' generosity birthed roughly six months ago, when he approached Barnabas about making a substantial contribution. The Hamels had planned to make a permanent move to the Dallas area, where he has pitched for the Rangers the past two-plus seasons, and discussed possibly donating their "forever home," which began construction before he was traded from the Phillies in 2015.

"When we began to build our forever home, we were excited to put roots down in the Ozarks. We love all that southwest Missouri represents: Family, values and making memories in the great outdoors," Hamels said in a statement. "A piece of us will always be in the area, but with a new legacy and vision."

Tweet from @CampBarnabas: Thank you to everyone who attended our press conference and is actively sharing our story. We are thrilled to accept this enormous gift from Cole & Heidi Hamels and look forward to the many lives it will impact. pic.twitter.com/4BEBkrFfe4

The Barnabas Foundation oversees two primary initiatives: Camp Barnabas, which has welcomed more than 75,000 campers and missionaries since 1994, and Barnabas Prep, a two-year faith-based collegiate program that aims to help young adults challenge themselves to reach their best potential. Currently in its seventh year, Barnabas Prep has served 85 students thus far, and it will likely be the main use of Hamels' 100-plus acre property, which is being turned over unencumbered with a free and clear title, according to Camp Barnabas CEO Jason Brawner.

The house is zoned as a single-family property, and Barnabas is committed to financially maintaining the property. A residential staff will live in the finished guest house, and Brawner says Barnabas plans to work with Tri-Lakes area businesses to maintain the house.

"We have no intention of utilizing this property as a summer camp. Outside this, all possibilities for the future of this property, as they relate to our mission, are under consideration." Brawner said at Tuesday's news conference. "The Barnabas Foundation, along with our board of directions, has no intention of selling the property in the immediate future. This will give us ample time to determine how it can best be used to further the ministry of Barnabas."

Tuesday's ceremony marked another chapter in the Hamels' respected efforts to promote education. The couple formed the non-profit Hamels Foundation in 2009 with the primary objective of enriching children's lives by providing tools and financial support to help reach their educational goals.

The Hamels Foundation has worked with inner-city schools across the country with a community-based approach to education, aligning with the Barnabas' vision as an independent living-learning avenue for young adults. As of October, Hamels had donated more than $4.1 million to educational programs worldwide, per Brawner.

"Barnabas is doing great things, and we cannot wait to see how they grow their ministry," Hamels said. "Heidi and I are extremely blessed, and this home is our opportunity to give back and make a significant impact for generations to come."

"This gift is a game-changer," said Barnabas director of marketing Andrea Harp. "The lives that will be changed as a result of this will have a ripple effect for years to come. Already, it's so surreal seeing the Barnabas mission and the story covered on national outlets. That is the Barnabas mission being shared way beyond our corner in southwest Missouri. It's incredibly rewarding. People who have never heard of Barnabas before, who don't know who we are, now know who we are and know our passion."

Also on Tuesday, the Rangers officially opened the Texas Rangers MLB Youth Academy, which includes the state-of-the-art Globe Life Training Center, a 39,000-square-foot indoor facility that houses four classrooms supported by the Hamels Foundation. The Youth Academy will provide both year-round baseball and softball instruction, as well as youth tutoring programs, college prep classes and career fairs.

Daniel Kramer is a reporter for MLB.com based in Denver. Follow him on Twitter at @DKramer_.

Texas Rangers, Cole Hamels