ROUND ROCK, Texas - Jana Almendarez's legacy will continue to change and impact lives for years to come thanks to Jana's House, a new home for orphaned girls at the Family Legacy Mission's Tree of Life Children's Village in Zambia. The Round Rock Express, in conjunction with Ryan Sanders Baseball, announced fundraising efforts to build and maintain the house for years to come with an initial goal of $250,000.
"By building Jana's House at the Children's Village in Africa, we're able to keep Jana's giving and faith-driven spirit alive," said Reese Ryan, CEO of the Express. "This entire project aligns with our core values as an organization and gives back to a community in a way that would make Jana proud. We miss her every day, but it is comforting to know that her legacy will live on and her love for giving back will continue with this house."
Construction on the house is expected to begin in August and be completed by December. The Almendarez and Ryan families will be in Zambia to dedicate the house in Jana's memory in December. The Tree of Life Children's Village works to rescue children from extreme cases of abuse and poverty in the region.
The Almendarez family has been a part of the Family Legacy Mission for the past three years. In 2013, Chris Almendarez and his son Chase traveled to Zambia to help coach a baseball camp for orphaned boys. In 2014, they returned with Jana and their youngest son Luke. It was a life-changing trip for the whole family, but it seemed to impact Jana the most. With her strong faith and loving heart, she truly bonded with the orphans she met over there. One boy, George, impacted the Almendarez family so much so that they ended up sponsoring him, providing a long-term and loving environment of nurture and care along with necessities such as food, medical care and education.
For the past three years, the Express have sent coaches from their youth baseball camps over to Zambia to teach baseball to more than 300 children who wouldn't get to otherwise through Family Legacy's Dream Camp. The Express will continue their dedication to spreading the game of baseball in Zambia as part of Jana's lasting legacy.
Jana was diagnosed with a Stage IV Glioblastoma brain tumor on June 28, 2015. Believing in the strong power of prayer, the Almendarez family got word out about her diagnosis on social media in an attempt to raise awareness about the disease and rally prayer warriors around her during the battle she was facing. The hashtag #TeamJana organically took off as people throughout the baseball world, local community and all corners of the world joined in to offer their love and support. The Almendarez family maintained a positive outlook throughout Jana's 11 months of radiation and chemotherapy treatment. She passed away on May 14, 2016.
Donations towards Jana's House are accepted online through this link.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.