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Cole Hamels, center, plays blackjack during last year's Diamond in the Rough event sponsored by the Hamels Foundation to benefit Mark Twain Elementtary School. Hamels and his wife, Heidi, who grew up in Buffalo, will be at this year's event, Dec. 3, to benefit Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Ozarks.
Cole Hamels, center, plays blackjack during last year's Diamond in the Rough event sponsored by the Hamels Foundation to benefit Mark Twain Elementtary School. Hamels and his wife, Heidi, who grew up in Buffalo, will be at this year's event, Dec. 3, to benefit Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Ozarks.

After 5: Big League Benefit

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It’s important to Heidi and Cole Hamels that Springfield and southwest Missouri remains a strong community through efforts of Springfield-based The Hamels Foundation Inc.

After all, the “Survivor 6: The Amazon” participant who once lived in Buffalo and the Philadelphia Phillies pitcher plan to retire here after Cole Hamels’ baseball career ends.

“I absolutely love coming home,” Heidi Hamels says. “That’s where we plan to retire and raise our children.”

The couple has one son, Caleb Michael, who is 1.

“I firmly believe it’s one of the last places in America left where you can still own property and not lock your doors at night,” she says.

For now, they’ll settle for occasional trips to the area and will be in Springfield on Dec. 3 for a charity event to benefit Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Ozarks. The Hamelses also are in the process of building a winter home in southwest Missouri.

About the event
The second annual Diamond in the Rough charity poker tournament will benefit Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Ozarks, which served more than 1,400 children in 2009 by providing one-to-one mentor relationships to area children.

The event is scheduled Dec. 3 at the Knights of Columbus Diamond Room, 2340 W. Grand St.

“The importance of any of our events is that 100 percent of the proceeds go to local schools that are in need,” Heidi Hamels says. “Here in Philadelphia, we give back to the Philadelphia schools.”

Last year’s event raised $10,000 for Mark Twain Elementary School, says Kathy Dugas, operations manager of the Hamels Foundation and Heidi Hamels’ mother.
This year’s goal is much higher.

“We hope to raise $60,000,” Dugas says, adding that 300 people are expected.

Hamels says every school the foundation has given to in the Philadelphia area has a high free and reduced cost lunch rate and a low socioeconomic background, a common thread of the foundation’s benefactors.

Hamels says it’s important to her not to forget about the similar problems faced by children in southwest Missouri.

“Wherever you grow up, it’s natural to want to give back to the community that helped support you or helped establish the type of person you are,” Hamel says.

About the foundation
The idea for the foundation started during Heidi Hamels’ participation in “Survivor” in 2002 in South America.  

She fell ill during filming and vowed to help people worse off than herself. The foundation was formed in Philadelphia two years ago, she says.

“We started all of our resourcing and getting money together out of our own pocket. We started literally investigating what we could do in terms of education a little over six years ago,” Hamels says. “Once we finally had a good grasp of what’s really going on in the schools here and in Africa, we decided that it was definitely worth our time and effort to start our own foundation.”

While researching parts of the world the newly formed foundation could help, she discovered the plight of Malawi. The tiny country in Africa has the highest HIV-AIDS population in the world, she says, and there are around 1 million orphans.

“In Africa, you do everything,” Hamels says. “You are providing substantial means for them to grow up. You’re clothing them, feeding them, educating them – they have nothing.”[[In-content Ad]]

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