Tri-Cities radio hosts raising funds to pay off community’s medical debt

KENNEWICK, Wash. — If you listen to the radio in the Tri-Cities or surrounding region, you probably recognize their voices from 94.9 The Wolf.

In 2018, Radio Hosts Adam Lamberd and Jen Little set out on a lofty mission: to raise a million dollars to pay off medical debt from Tri-Cities residents.

“And at the end of day three, we had raised enough to pay off almost five million dollars; so we were hooked,” Jen Little said.

Little said they partner with RIP Medical Debt which was founded by two former debt collectors. They’re a New York, 501(C)(3) that’s paid off nearly seven billion dollars of Americans’ medical debt thanks to generous donations and fundraisers.

“They go up and buy it in bulk and then are able to pay it off pennies on the dollar, so if you come in and make a donation – you can add two zeros to the end of whatever donation you make,” Little said.

Fundraisers like the Million Dollar Difference from 94.9 The Wolf. In their three years of fundraising, they’ve helped pay off 17 million dollars in medical debt. Little said one year their reach went as far as Texas.

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“Medical debt isn’t anything anybody chooses to have – right? They didn’t go out and overspend, they didn’t go party, they didn’t go buy some expensive thing; somebody in their house got sick, somebody got in a car accident, somebody got a diagnosis they never thought they were going to have and then they were burdened with this debt,” she said.

It’s a hardship Little knows all too well. When her son was three years old, he was diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease.

“His doctor’s visits, his medications, they’re continuing forever so you can’t ever feel like you get your head above water,” she said.

As the Tri-Cities recovers from the lasting effects of the pandemic, Jen said there’s even more medical debt that needs to be covered.

She said the stories they get from callers and recipients, keeps them going.

“They get these and they’re like ‘ you have no idea what this did for my life,’ – it’s life changing for us every year too,” she said.

You can make a donation by calling the radio station at 509-222-0949 or visiting their website. There’s also an online auction; the proceeds will help RIP Medical Debt clear Tri-Cities residents’ medical debt.