Quincy gears up for 11th annual Bridge the Gap to Health Race

Bridge the Gap to Health Race in Quincy / KHQA file photo

Prescription medications are becoming more expensive than ever, leaving thousands of patients without the money to pay for them.

Several hundred people in Adams County are fortunate enough to have help from the MedAssist program through Quincy Catholic Charities. The program helps pay for life-saving prescription meds many people can't pay for on their own.

It's a community effort that makes it all possible.

"Between my insulin, my two diabetic pills and my thyroid and acid reflex meds, I'm guessing close to a couple thousand dollars a month," said Donna Cody.

That's money Cody just doesn't have for medications she can't live without.

"I probably wouldn't be alive if I didn't have their help," said Cody.

She's one of many people in Adams County getting help through MedAssist.

"They help me with the medications I can't afford to buy. If it wasn't for them, I wouldn't be able to probably get any of my prescriptions," said Cody.

"Last year we served 431 people. And that's a steady increase over the ten years we've had the program. But in addition to that, each person that comes into the program comes in with additional medications, so last year, we leveraged 5,000 medication for those 431 people," said Jackie Raleigh, the area director of Quincy Catholic Charities.

Since the program began 10 ten years ago, the amount of money Quincy Catholic Charities has raised has skyrocketed.

"We leveraged $340,000 in the first year. Last year we leveraged $2.3 million. Overall, 8.2 million in ten years. Last year, the ave cost of meds was $437," said Raleigh.

That's just in Quincy. In order to make this all happen, Quincy Catholic Charities puts on a huge fundraiser every year. Saturday, an estimated three thousand people from all over the Tri-States are expected to kick off the 11th annual Bridge the Gap to Health Race.

"We wouldn't be able to have the program without the race. Last year we made $73,000 off the race, and that really helps with the cost of the program on a yearly basis," said Raleigh.

"So many people go into this race for the 5K or the 10K or the half marathon which is fantastic, because they're doing something for themselves, but the bigger and the better reason we're doing this is because we're helping our community. So every time someone walks across the bridge, they can feel good about the fact that they're helping someone get their prescription medication that they couldn't afford otherwise," said Carrie Kimber with Quincy Medical Group.

"In terms of sponsors, volunteers, and participants, this is a community-wide event and we come out and basically wrap our arms around these people who couldn't pay their meds and help them do that," said Kimber.

As for Donna Cody, she'll be one of the many people at Saturday's Bridge the Gap Race.

"I'm going to volunteer. It will be a wonderful chance to give back. I will certainly be there to help," said Cody.

The Bridge the Gap to Health Race begins at 8 a.m. Saturday in Quincy.

Sponsors are hoping to raise more money than ever for concerns over the state budget. Governor Pat Quinn's proposing to eliminate "Illinois Cares," cutting assistance to 4,000 people in that program. That would result in thousands more applying for the MedAssist program.