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In the news: Hamels pitches in to aid Philadelphia schools

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Shaw Middle School received $50,000 for a library, and 15 other schools shared an additional $100,000. The total gift of $200,000 came from the Hamels Foundation, the couple's nonprofit fund.

Scheduled to pitch hours later against the Florida Marlins, Hamels nevertheless wanted to see the school in person.

"It's just the way I was brought up," Hamels said. "It's all my parents ever asked of me, just to be a good example."

Hamels' parents are both educators in his native California.

With Cole on the road, Heidi visits each school that applies for funds. She saw a high need at Swenson.

"In public schools, we have to make do with what we have," said Heidi Hamels, a former gym teacher. "But a lot of people don't understand how much this relates to your scores. Phys ed can make your scores go up as much as 20 percent. If you let your kid run around, I guarantee he'll do better on that test."

The fitness center - which will include weights, treadmills, elliptical machines, and Nintendo Wii's - encourages individual sports, Heidi Hamels said.

The school learned it would receive the money just eight days ago, principal David Kipphut said. He hopes to have construction finished by Nov. 1.

The school's biggest classroom couldn't accommodate all of the students, but those lucky enough to get seats heard words of encouragement from the couple.

For Hamels, who opted to go pro instead of attending college, formal education ended in high school.

"Obviously, I wasn't the most literate person," he said. "But I was able to get the special assistance to become somewhat knowledgeable. In this country, you can do anything, but without an education it's a lot harder to make the most of an opportunity."

Contact staff writer Drew Singer at 215-854-5626 or dsinger@philly.com.

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