For nearly a decade up until his death on New Year’s Day, a retired farmer in Alabama gave a local pharmacy $100 a month for patients who couldn’t afford their medication, without anyone knowing other than the store’s owner.
Roughly 10 years ago, Hody Childress of Geraldine, Alabama, gave a folded-up $100 bill to pharmacy owner Brooke Walker and told her to never tell anyone where it came from. He returned every month with the same instructions and another $100 bill.
“He said, ‘Don’t tell a soul where the money came from – if they ask, just tell them it’s a blessing from the Lord,’” Ms Walker told The Washington Post.
Over the last year, prescription drug prices surged at an average rate of nearly 32 per cent, with some drug prices exploding by 500 per cent, according to the US Department of Health and Human Services.
Nearly 40 per cent of Americans or members of their family postponed medical treatment last year because of growing costs, the highest point in 22 years, according to January polling from Gallup.
Roughly 83 per cent of American adults say the cost of prescription drugs is unreasonable, according to last year’s polling from health policy organisation KFF. In 2019, the group found that roughly one-quarter of Americans have trouble affording them.
That year, about 3.5 million Americans age 65 and older struggled to afford their prescription drugs, and people of colour on Medicare or with lower incomes were more likely to skip them altogether, according to the US Department of Health and Human Services.
“Mr Childress was a kind, humble man,” Ms Walker told local NBC affiliate WVTM-TV. His family told The Post that Mr Childress – an 80-year-old US Air Force veteran and longtime Lockheed Martin employee – largely lived off retirement savings and Social Security payments.
“Each and every month, year after year, he would walk into the drug store and hand me $100,” Ms Walker told WVM-TV. “I kept my word of not telling anyone, even the family. Eventually, I did start taking a little money here, a little money there, just to help people who were struggling.”
Over the years, those $100 bills began to add up to thousands of dollars for patients without insurance or under-insured customers whose insurance did not adequately cover the cost of their medication, according to Ms Walker.
Nobody in the family knew about his monthly trips, but he revealed his donations to his daughter just before his death, she told The Washington Post.
“He told me he’d been carrying a $100 bill to the pharmacist in Geraldine on the first of each month,” Tania Nix told the newspaper. “He just wanted to bless people with it.”
Following his death and the revelation of his donations, members of the community reached out to his family to offer their thanks, and a “Hody Childress Fund” at the pharmacy will keep the donations alive.