Why Cole Hamels Donated His $9 Million Home to Kids With Disabilities

The pro baseball player and his wife saw it as their calling to gift their dream home to Camp Barnabas - an organization that helps disabled kids and their families.

Feb 5, 2019

(Paul Hakimata Photography / Shutterstock.com)

We all have our personal heroes. Whether it's our favorite relative, artist, or athlete, there are always people in our lives that inspire us to be better - to be the best version of ourselves and help those around us.

To many baseball fans, Cole Hamels, who plays for the Chicago Cubs, is just that. A hero on and off the field that inspires us to see the best in people. In 2017, when Hamels still played for the Texas Rangers, he and his wife decided to perform an incredible act of kindness. To lend a hand to disabled children, the couple donated their unfinished mansion that sits on 100 acres of land to Camp Barnabas, a nonprofit organization that provides a Christian camp experience for disabled children.

The gift, that was made through the Cole and Heidi Hamels foundation in December 2017, was the largest donation ever received by Camp Barnabas.

“There are tons of amazing charities in Southwest Missouri. Out of all of these, Barnabas really pulled on our heartstrings,” Cole Hamels said in a statement from Camp Barnabas. “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.”

Over 75,000 campers have come to the camp's two locations over the past 24 years. The Barnabas experience is available to disabled children and their siblings regardless of their disability or diagnosis. The organization's goal is to provide social experiences that increase the participants' spiritual knowledge, social learning, and human dignity.

Camp Barnabas also includes Barnabas Prep, a two-year faith-based collegiate program based in Branson Missouri that was designed specifically for students with special needs and resembles an independent living facility. And the organizations says it is even bigger than that. “Prep helps individuals recognize their strengths and potential while challenging them to grow into their best selves,” Camp Barnabas says.

“We love that Barnabas sees the bigger picture,” Cole and Heidi Hamels said. “They are changing the way the world sees disability ministry.”

The couple began construction on their 'forever home' before Cole was traded to the Texas Rangers, but once their lives center moved to Dallas, they knew it was their calling to donate their future home. 

"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."

"This gift is a game-changer," Barnabas director of marketing Andrea Harp told MLB.com. "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."

"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."

Losing a dream home but gaining the gratification that the property will do good for an organization they believe in was the perfect trade for the Hamels.

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BONNIE RIVA RAS, EDITOR & WRITER
Bonnie Riva Ras has dedicated her life to promoting social justice. She loves to write about empowering women, helping children, educational innovations, and advocating for the environment & sustainability.

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