Over the past five days, an incredible movement has grown across North Texas: The fight to end medical debt. Our consumer team started the initiative, but our viewers have helped pick up the load in a major way.
We also shared Katie Thomson's battle with cancer.
"I didn't want to slow anything down. I just wanted life to go on so it could be almost ready whenever i got out of the hospital," she said.
Katie sees her new North Texas home as motivation.
"It's a safe place for us to spend time together and enjoy ourselves," she explained.
It's place where she can start fresh and focus less on her battle with cancer.
"We knew when the doctor walked in, and following her was the chaplain, and following her was another doctor, and they didn't even have to say anything. We knew what they were going to say," her mother, Jessica Thompson, said.
On April 7, 2015, their emotional and financial battles had just begun.
"The bills just started, just collecting," said Jessica.
That meant Katie's place of refuge would be put on the back-burner, and the family of four would have to stay with relatives to get by.
It's a story we've heard far too often, prompting NBC 5 to take on the medical debt crisis.
NBC Universal Owned Television Stations, the owner of NBC 5, partnered with the nonprofit RIP Medical Debt in an effort to give back and allow other North Texans to pay it forward, too.
"I am personally doing this because I want to make a difference," said Alice Puente.
Puente is a cancer survivor, and after seeing Katie's story, she and her foundation, The Alice and Buddy Puente Foundation, were moved to donate $5,000, which covers $500,000 in medical debt for North Texans through RIP Medical.
"Other philanthropists are going to see this and they're going to step up," she said.
Wipe Out Kids Cancer, a local non-profit organization, is also on board, donating $2,500, which comes out to $250,000 in medical debt to help families survive this medical debt crisis.
"If we do partner together, our money goes further," said Chandini Portteus, President and CEO for Wipe Out Kids Cancer. "We are here to collaborate."
Their donations are forgiving debt for North Texas strangers in need, but Linda Hastings' donation is a bit more personal.
"I saw your story on the news and it touched my heart," she said.
Hastings watched Katie's parents struggle to finish their house and couldn't let it go.
"I come from a long line of people who like to give and we just wanted to help you guys out," she explained.
Hastings made a $1,000 donation for materials and brought construction workers by to check out the house. With the help of area businesses, the Thomson's house should be finished by the end of the week. They hope to move in by mid-March.
This is medical debt relief provided by North Texans, for North Texans.
"That's just really a blessing," Katie said. "There's nothing I can do to repay them but I'll try. I praise God every day."
As of Wednesday, NBC 5 viewers have donated enough to purchase more than $1.6 million dollars in medical debt. That money will go to thousands of people right here in our area.
Recipients will get envelopes in the mail letting them know that their debt has been forgiven.
We don't know who you are and this process is completely random, but all of the debt will be relieved right here in North Texas.
If you'd like to donate to help but an end to the medical debt crisis, click here.