Smudge is Here to Announce the Results of the Birthday Pledge Drive

Smudge in the yard, walking toward the camera.

Two days ago I encouraged people to donate to RIP Medical Debt, a non-profit that wipes out medical debt here in the US, and in return I would (if pledge goals were met) write a short story and do an audio version of the story as well. This pledge drive was in commemoration of my 50th birthday, which was yesterday.

The donation window is now closed, and when I tallied everything up, plus or minus processing fees, and including employer matches to donations, you folks donated $16,600. Which is amazing. When we add in the $2,000 that Krissy and I also donated ($1k at the outset, $1k when we hit the $10k goal), the entire drive netted about $18,600. Because RIP Medical Debt buys outstanding medical debt for pennies on the dollar in order to forgive it, that means our $18.6k will erase up to $1,860,000 worth of medical debt.

Let’s say that again: One million, eight hundred sixty thousand dollars of medical debt, erased. The folks at RIP Medical Debt said to me (in a tweet) that our donations will wipe out the medical debts of hundreds of US families. And I have to say, making life easier for hundreds of families is a pretty great way to spend one’s 50th birthday. Thanks to every one of you who made this possible. You’ve given me what is genuinely one of my best birthdays ever.

So, now, on my end, here’s what I owe you:

  • A brand new short story of at least 2,000 words (and probably more);
  • An audio version of said story;
  • And because we passed $15k, some other probably goofy thing related to the story above.

Making good on my pledges will be my first priority after I finish writing The Last Emperox, which is the final book in the Interdependency trilogy, and which is scheduled to come out next April. That absolutely has to get done or else my editors will strangle me. But! The second it is done (and, uh, I get some sleep), this story is next on the agenda. Look for it, the audio and whatever the third thing is, some time in June (probably) (hopefully).

In the meantime, please enjoy the above picture of Smudge, and also, the warm satisfaction of knowing you did a very good thing for people who could use the help. Again, thank you. I couldn’t have asked for a better birthday gift than this.

15 thoughts on “Smudge is Here to Announce the Results of the Birthday Pledge Drive

  1. Yay Us! And Yay You for thinking of it!
    Perhaps as the third goofy thing you could make Smudge the protagonist of your story?

  2. 1.8 million, pretty amazing. I am definitely going to spread the word on RIP Medical Debt to some of my colleagues since I hadn’t heard of it. Hope you had a wonderful birthday. Looking forward to the short story.

  3. The leonine picture of Smudge is actually enough compensation for my bit. (But I still want the other stuff.)

  4. Yeah, Smudge looks positively seriously cat-like in the picture (as opposed to kitten/goofball-ish.)

  5. Thank you for posting about your thought processes on anticipating turning 50, and your resolve to get into better physical shape.

    Also hurray for easing people’s medical debt.

    Wishing you and yours all the best.

  6. For the “goofy thing”, perhaps you could commission a song to accompany the story and audiobook?

  7. Congratulations on both your birthday and on leveraging the liberation of hundreds or thousands of families from crippling medical debt! You, sir, are a mensch.

    Six or so years ago, I spent a few days in the hospital, and one afternoon, I struck up a conversation with the old gentleman who came in each day to clean my hospital room. He was 67 years old, and he was making a 90-mile round-trip commute daily for a janitorial job that paid him maybe $10 an hour. I asked him why on earth he was still working instead of enjoying a well-deserved retirement.

    Turns out he had been laid off at age 61 when the factory where he had worked over 40 years closed down. The health insurance ended with the factory’s demise, but he had a nice little retirement nest-egg and a fully paid-for home in the small blue-collar city where he lived, so all he had to do was get to 65 when he could start Medicare.

    Then he had a heart attack, followed by bypass surgery. And the hospital that had saved his life informed him that if he didn’t pay his medical bills in full within 90 days, they would take his fully paid-for home to satisfy the debt (which is allowed in our backwards state).

    So he drained his retirement nest egg to pay off his medical bills in order to keep his home. And there he was, in what should have been his golden years, sweeping floors and scrubbing toilets to survive, with the virtual certainty that he’d be doing that until he died.

    It appalls me that an organization like RIP Medical Debt is needed in the supposedly enlightened times in which we live. I am very glad to have learned about them, and indeed went back to the site today to set up a regular recurring donation because it’s the right thing to do – but it should not be needed. So thank you, sir, for raising awareness this way.

  8. In the country I live in when someone gets sick they get treated for free. It seems weird to me that in your country, sick people get penalised financially. Congrats on the great effort to make such a difference to so many people.

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