Retired Colorado Rockies first baseman and Hall-of-Fame candidate Todd Helton has found a new way to give back to fans: helping people free themselves of millions of dollars of medical debt.
Helton and the nonprofit RIP Medical Debt announced an agreement More than $10 million in medical bills for Colorado residents will be wiped out on Monday. Starting later this month, those who benefited from this gift will begin to receive letters in the mail stating that some or all of their Medicare loans have now been “paid in full.” The loans are also being characterized as a charitable exercise, meaning there will be no tax implications for recipients.
“My good friend, Ryan ‘Zoom’ Jumonville recently took care of $100 million of medical debt for people in his home state of Florida,” Helton said in a statement. “I was inspired and wanted to do something similar for the people of Colorado.”
Jumonville — or “Zoom” as Helton calls him — is a philanthropist who primarily focuses his efforts on child health care, but he also provided homes to single mothers and scholarships for the children of deceased veterans. and has helped establish water wells in parts of Africa. , He is also participating in the Colorado Debt Relief Initiative.
But this isn’t the first time that two former University of Tennessee volunteers have teamed up to give back. In 2004, Jumonville and Helton donated millions of dollars to help cover the cost of a health care program for employees at their alma mater.
“Medical debt is not only a financial burden; it also creates enormous mental health stress on patients and their families,” said Allison Sesso, President and CEO of RIP Medical Debt. “Medical debt prevents people from seeking follow-up care and is a social determinant of health meaning that carrying debt undermines one’s well-being. We are grateful to Todd and Ryan for raising this important issue and directly helping Coloradoans. are grateful to those who need it most.”
Helton is a beloved figure throughout Colorado, having spent his entire 17-year career with the Rockies at first base until his retirement in 2013.
He debuted with the team in 1997 and became one of the franchise’s most decorated players, winning three Gold Glove awards, four Silver Slugger awards, and five All-Star Game appearances. In August 2014, the Rockies retired Helton’s historic number 17, making him the first player to receive that honor in the organization’s 26-year history.
Helton – now 50 – said that as he has grown older, he has realized that life is about helping others and making the world a better place.
“It’s not just about giving gifts of money, but about how you treat people and how you interact in society,” he said. “Obviously, medical expenses are very high these days. It’s almost absurd for a normal family to be able to afford it. We found a way we could help, and I said count me in.”
While Helton didn’t meet the 75% vote requirement to be inducted into MLB’s Hall-of-Fame class of 2023, he came much closer than last year. He needs only 12 more votes next time to join Larry Walker as the only two Rockies in Cooperstown.