WMBB & community abolish $3.4 million in medical debt through telethon

Bay County

PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WMBB) — After a day-long telethon to #EraseTheDebt across the Panhandle, WMBB partnering with RIP Medical Debt raised thousands of dollars on Wednesday to abolish medical debt in the community.

Thanks to dozens of generous donations from community members, business owners and more, WMBB raised nearly $34 thousand on Wednesday, which will wipe out $3.4 million in medical debt throughout the Panhandle.

“That is incredible, it just shows you the amazing, good will of people,” said RIP Medical Debt Executive Director, Allison Sesso. “It really shows that when the community comes together, the amount that they can accomplish is amazing.”

From $10 to $10 thousand, dozens of donations came through to abolish medical debt in the Panhandle. For local attorney Larry Perry, the issue hits close to home as his single mother experienced the burden of medical debt after needing a critical surgery.

“It created a huge financial stress on our family,” he said. “She persevered and went through it, but it took her nearly ten years to pay it off.”

His partner, Chris Young, has a similar story.

“My dad was paralyzed at an early age for me,” Young said. “It lasted for decades and having to see my parents struggle to pay those medical bills.”

From their own families, to their clients, they said medical debt can be a huge blow to anyone.

Their $10 thousand donation aimed to help.

“Being able to give back on the level we’ve been able to do, it’s a Christmas gift for us,” Young said. 

Moving forward, RIP Medical Debt will buy and forgive the available medical debt in the community, chosen randomly but selected from a pool of those who are financially struggling. “We will buy as much as we can with that amount of money and then we will send letters out to those people whose debt we ultimately buy,: Sesso said.

She said those letters will hopefully go out in the next couple of months.

“Amazing, amazing work,” she said. “We’re really looking forward to putting those dollars to work.”

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