Aflac program soothes and engages childhood cancer patients

Aflac Chairman and CEO Dan Amos delivers a My Special Aflac Duck to Ethan Daniels of Alpharetta at the first “Duck Delivery” event, which was held at the Aflac Cancer and Blood Disorders Center at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta during Childhood Cancer Awareness Month in 2018.
Aflac Chairman and CEO Dan Amos delivers a My Special Aflac Duck to Ethan Daniels of Alpharetta at the first “Duck Delivery” event, which was held at the Aflac Cancer and Blood Disorders Center at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta during Childhood Cancer Awareness Month in 2018. After 3 1/2 years of treatment, Ethan received his final chemotherapy in July 2020. Courtesy of Aflac

A childhood cancer diagnosis is horrible and isolating in the best of times, but during the coronavirus pandemic, when hospitals have more restrictions on visitors and outings, it can be profoundly lonely. Aflac’s program, My Special Aflac Duck, provides a research-driven award-winning animatronic duck to childhood cancer patients who are at least 3 years old to help them through their illness.

“We have heard from several parents and child life specialists at hospitals saying that My Special Aflac Duck has helped provide social and emotional support for children who have been in greater isolation during their cancer journey as a result of the pandemic,” said Jon Sullivan, the director of corporate communications at Aflac.

Aflac started distributing My Special Aflac Ducks to children in September of 2018, and since then it has given more than 9,900 ducks to more than 280 pediatric cancer hospitals and organizations in 48 U.S. states, as well as Puerto Rico, free of charge. Aflac also expanded the program to Japan, where it does approximately 75% of its business, ahead of schedule, when a child there saw the duck on the internet and wrote a touching letter asking if he could receive one as well.

“The duck itself is a soothing friend, but it also uses interactive play to help comfort young patients during their cancer care, enabling them to express their feelings and provides them a sense of control during an uncontrollable time,” said Sullivan.

The duck also comes with feeling emoji cards that it reacts to to help children express themselves and an app that kids can use to play, including feeding and bathing the duck, taking trips to virtual environments and using a new dance tool that was added in 2020.

Who’s helping?

Aflac

Services: Aflac is providing award-winning animatronic duck toys called My Special Aflac Duck to childhood cancer patients. This program is a key pillar of the Aflac Childhood Cancer Campaign — the company’s 25-year, $150 million commitment to eradicating childhood cancer.

Where supplies have gone: Any child older than 3 who has been diagnosed with cancer is eligible to receive My Special Aflac Duck free of charge through their healthcare provider.

Where to donate: Donations cannot be made directly to this program, however, purchase of The 2020 Aflac Holiday Duck is available for purchase at AflacChildhoodCancer.org/shop, and proceeds from these sales go to The Aflac Childhood Cancer Foundation and are then distributed to children’s cancer programs at participating hospitals across the country.

How to receive a My Special Aflac Duck: Healthcare providers who treat children with cancer should go to aflacchildhoodcancer.org/myduck to register where they can order as many ducks that they need for childhood cancer patients ages 3 and older.

If you are involved in or know of an organization working to bring relief to the Atlanta community during the coronavirus pandemic OR you are with an organization with supplies that you don’t know where to donate, please email us at Shannon.n.Dominy@gmail.com.

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