Cole Hamels donates $300,000 to Phila. school

Friday, June 01, 2012

Phillies pitcher, Cole Hamels announced some big plans for his Foundation Friday. They are making a $300,000 donation to a Hunting Park school for a new state-of-the art playground.

The cheers at Bayard Taylor Elementary School were all for Phillies starting pitcher Cole Hamels who came to present a big fat check to renovate the school's play yard.

"To make it official, you guys want me to sign it?" Hamels asked the exuberant crowd. He was given a resounding "yes" just before taking a pen to the giant check.

For decades, students have played in an area that looks more like an empty parking lot. Hamels' donation will renovate that space to teach lessons in technology, science and physical education. The Foundation will provide a playground that sustainable and enviromental sound.

First grader Damian Figueroa was excited about the race track.

The space will also include chess and technology tables, and something first grader Manuel Edmonds thought was cool, greenhouses, "For the plants," said Manuel. There will also be more trees.

"The whole school is happy that we're getting a new playground," said 5th grader Arianna Colon.

"This is our 4th year being able to help out Bayard School," said Hamels. "I think this is something very special."

In 2009, the Hamels Foundation gave the school new walkie talkies. In 2010, they donated $12,000 for a new allergy free auditorium curtain, and last year, another $2,500 for socialized recess kits.

But this year tops them all.

"They are so generous, so committed," said Debra Drossner, Bayard Taylor Principal. "They really want to make a lasting difference."

The Hamels Foundation has donated $660,000 to 20 public schools in Philadelphia alone, and $1.8 million worldwide to improve education.

"My mom's a teacher, and my dad's an assistant Superintendant," said Hamels. "So it was always stressed early on if you want to get anywhere in life, you need the tools."

Hamel says his dad didn't really want him to pursue baseball.

"The one thing my dad always said, 'No, you prepare for school', and I was like I have to do some baseball. He said, 'No, school is first', and baseball just happened to work out," Hamels said.

His mom, who flew in from San Diego, helps with his Foundation on the West Coast.

"You don't know the influence you have on your kids until they become adults and are making their own decisions," said Amanda Hamels. "It just makes you very proud as parents."

Cole Hamels says when his stint in baseball is up his dad is still going to expect him to get his college degree. In the meantime, he is having a pretty good year, and his foundation continues to do great work.

The playground at Bayard Taylor Elementary School will be completed when the students return to school next year.

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