The second half of the 2022 baseball season has been a whirlwind for pitcher and fan-favorite Lance McCullers Jr. Coming off the injured list in September after a forearm injury, he hit his stride, throwing a season-high 11 strikeouts during a pivotal game against the Oakland A's. This feat helped the Astros clinch the American League West, earning a spot in the playoffs for the seventh time in the last eight seasons. McCullers has been an integral part of the Astros organization for over seven years, notably starting on the mound for game 7 of their famed 2017 World Series victory.
When he began playing for the Astros in 2015, he and his wife Kara, both life-long animal enthusiasts, were invited to several animal adoption events in Houston. Newlyweds at the time (they had only been married for five months), the duo quickly realized that the overpopulation of animals is a severe problem in Houston and decided to use Lance's position as an athlete to raise awareness about the issue. Just one year into his major league career, the couple launched the Lance McCullers Jr. Foundation to help and advocate for stray and homeless animals.
"Lance and I have always known that if we were given any sort of platform, we would utilize it to raise awareness for charitable causes that are important to us," says his wife of seven years, Kara. "The city of Houston has been so good to our family, so it is important to give back as much as we can."
Partnering with other rescue organizations, the McCullers' foundation has transported over 75,000 animals from shelter euthanasia lists and provides medical assistance to animals that would otherwise be put down. The foundation is also debuting a new initiative to provide funding for adopted dogs to become service animals for military veterans. Most recently, in September, Lance partnered up with Astros teammates Jose Altuve and Kyle Tucker for the fourth annual Team Up charity event. Team Up raised over $370,000 for The Lance McCullers Jr. Foundation, The Sunshine Kids Foundation and the Kyle Tucker Foundation.
"It was so nice having Team Up back for the first time since the pandemic," said Kara. "We did not know what to expect coming out of the pandemic, but we had so many people come out to support this year, and it turned out to be our most successful event to date."
When they are not busy with baseball season or their charity, the McCullers enjoy family time with their daughter Ava. Both Florida natives, the couple has been together since high school, saying that after only a few weeks of dating as teenagers, they joked about getting married. And although professional athletes are seen as celebrities with lives full of glitz and glamour, Kara stresses that going through a baseball season is a roller coaster for the entire family.
"We are very blessed to be in the baseball life. It is a very long season (the longest of any professional sport), and there are many times when players are challenged physically, emotionally and mentally," she says. "When your spouse experiences anything like that, you go through it with them."
The family of three is definitely looking forward to downtime during the upcoming off-season. And Kara says that although their house and hearts are complete (and very busy) with a toddler and three large dogs, they look forward to more babies and dogs in the not-so-distant future. lancemccullersfoundation.org
"We started the foundation eight years ago with a broad mission, but with the help we have received over the years, we have been able to reach a lot of animal lives and help a lot of people, as well. Our foundation really is a Houston foundation and we created it out of love for this city and the desire to give back to our community," Lance McCullers Jr.
Disaster Relief: In addition to helping homeless animals, the Lance McCullers Jr. Foundation is dedicated to helping during natural disasters. The foundation made a significant impact for both people and animals in need during Hurricane Harvey and Winter Storm Uri.
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