BAY COUNTY, Fla. (WMBB) — At just 16-years-old, Samir Boussarhane founded the Pensacola Debt Sharks, a nonprofit with the goal to erase $1 million of medical debt in his local community
Teaming up with RIP Medical Debt, Boussarhane did more than that.
“We had a goal for $1 million and we raised $3 million,” Boussarhane said.
Boussarhane said his inspiration for this project was personal.
“My mother has kidney disease so I understood medical debt, Boussarhane said. “If you don’t have insurance, it’s nearly impossible to pay for it.”
“It’s not like regular debt where someone chooses to buy something that they can’t afford,” he added. “It’s either you pay it or you die.”
Boussarhane is currently pursuing a degree in cybersecurity at the University of South Florida.
“With my cybersecurity background, I found RIP’s website and I actually put it through this algorithm that gave me the CEO’s phone number. So I ended up calling him at probably 8 p.m. during dinner,” Boussarhane said. “I just asked, ‘Hey, I’m a high school student interested in starting a charity.”
Using RIP Medical Debt’s $1-to-$100 model, he was able to raise $25,000 and erase $3 million in debt.
“Somebody buys $10, you add two zeros to that,” said Allison Sesso, RIP Medical Debt executive director. “So $10 buys you $1000 of medical debt that you can relieve for somebody.”
Boussarhane said for the next two years he planned local fundraisers and spirit nights, ending up erasing $3 million in medical debt for his community by the time of his high school graduation.
“I had to do a volunteer project for my high school diploma. So I was originally just planning on picking up garbage or something like that,” Boussarhane said. “Then being able to say at 16 I helped relieve $3 million of medical debt — you look back on that, I’m really happy that I actually had an impact on my community.”