DENVER (AP) — Retired Colorado Rockies first baseman Todd Helton is teaming up with the organization RIP Medical Debt to help eliminate $10 million in medical bills for residents around the state.
The program is set to start later this month, with recipients around Colorado receiving letters that notify them their medical bills have been paid in full. Medical expenses have been among the leading causes for bankruptcy in the United States.
Helton, who retired in 2013 and is the franchise’s all-time leader in many statistical categories, said in a release Monday that he drew inspiration from his friend and philanthropist Ryan ‘Jume’ Jumonville.
“(He) recently took care of $100 (million) in medical debt for the people in his home state of Florida,” Helton said. “I … wanted to do something similar for the people of Colorado.”
Helton worked with Jumonville in 2004, when the tandem donated money to health care programs in order to help University of Tennessee system employees.
RIP Medical Debt is a charity that aims to abolish medical bills for those who need financial assistance. Since 2014, the not-for-profit organization has aided more than 6.5 million people in eliminating more than $10 billion in medical debt.
“Medical debt is not only a financial burden; it also creates enormous mental health strain on patients and their families,” RIP President & CEO Allison Sesso said in a statement. “We’re grateful to Todd and Ryan for lifting up this critical issue and directly helping Coloradans who need it most.”
Helton spent his entire professional baseball career with the Rockies after being picked in the first round of the 1995 Major League Baseball draft. His No. 17 was retired by Colorado on Aug. 17, 2014.
The 50-year-old Helton won a National League batting title in 2000 when he hit .372. Helton was a five-time All-Star and won the Gold Glove three times for his fielding at first base.
Helton has been steadily gaining votes in his bid to make the Hall of Fame.