SANTA BARBARA, Calif., Aug. 10, 2017 /PRNewswire/ -- Aflac, the leader in voluntary insurance sales at the worksite in the U.S. and a committed corporate ally in making a difference in the lives of children with cancer, today proudly presented a group of heroes with Duckprints Awards for making an impact and leaving a footprint in the lives of children and families with cancer.
"At Aflac, we believe that everyone has the power to do good," Aflac Foundation President Kathelen Amos said. "Aflac adopted the charge more than 20 years ago to further childhood cancer research and treatment and to support families, and we haven't looked back since. We are excited to kick off our 2017 Duckprints celebrations at Cottage Children's Medical Center and to honor three inspiring, selfless individuals who truly embody what it means to do good."
The 2017 Duckprints Awardees are:
- Faith DeBrum — After being diagnosed with Hodgkin's lymphoma on her 11th birthday and completing four rounds of chemotherapy, Faith has been instrumental in Children's Miracle Network Hospitals' fundraising for Cottage Children's Medical Center alongside their corporate partner, Costco – where her parents work.
- Jasmin Castro — Since she was 1 year old, Jasmin has been overcoming the odds – from a germ cell tumor and hearing loss to an aneurysm and coma. Today, 17-year-old Jasmin is in good health and sharing her experiences to raise money to help kids like her at Cottage.
- Anita Williamson — Thanks to Anita's generosity, children undergoing cancer treatment at Cottage Health's Grotenhuis Pediatric Clinics receive friendlier, more comfortable hospital garments free of charge to enhance the overall comfort of their hospital experience.
"Corporate support helps Cottage Children's Medical Center provide the kind of advanced treatments and care for children with cancer that you'd otherwise find at an academic medical center," Cottage Health Director of Development Magda Stayton said. "We're grateful to Aflac for partnering with us to honor this group of outstanding heroes who are leaving their own footprints in the fight against childhood cancer."
Childhood cancer is the leading cause of death by disease for children under the age of 15, according to the National Cancer Institute. Yet, less than 4 percent of all federal funding for cancer research goes toward pediatric cancer, according to the Children's Cancer Fund. That's why since 1995, Aflac has contributed more than $116 million to bridge the gap in funding and help find a cure. In fact, each month, more than 17,000 Aflac independent sales associates contribute more than $500,000 from their commission checks to support childhood cancer research and treatment.
Leading up to September Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, Aflac is calling on people across America to become active in the cause. To honor the 25-year relationship between Cottage Health and Aflac, supporters are invited to make donations in $25 increments at www.cottagechildrens.org/cmn. These donations will be matched by Aflac, up to $5,000, until Sept. 30.
In addition, Aflac is donating $2 to children's cancer research and treatment for each Duckprints-related social media activity on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and/or Instagram, up to $1.5 million. Related social actions include:
Twitter - $2 for any tweet using the hashtag #Duckprints or for retweets of Duckprints-related tweets.
Facebook - $2 for any share of posts related to Duckprints or using #Duckprints.
YouTube - $2 per view of the Duckprints videos on YouTube.
Instagram - $2 for every post using the hashtag #Duckprints.
Aflac also created a website (aflacduckprints.com) that enables users to nominate unsung heroes in their community who have made a difference in the lives of children and families facing cancer. People can follow the Aflac Duck on his journey to hospitals around the country honoring those heroes. In addition, merchandise such as plush Aflac Ducks and Duckprints-related T-shirts, slippers and other items are available for purchase at aflacduckprints.com, with all of the net proceeds going toward the treatment and research of childhood cancer.
About Duckprints Award Recipient Faith DeBrum
Three weeks after her grandfather passed away from cancer, Faith felt a lump on her collarbone. Having witnessed "Papa's" decline for a year and ultimately seeing him succumb to lung cancer, she was understandably frightened.
The diagnosis of Hodgkin's lymphoma arrived on Faith's 11th birthday.
Her parents, Ronnie and Laura, assured her that Papa's cancer wasn't like hers, and that her cancer would be curable. From their home in Santa Maria, the family traveled to Cottage Children's Medical Center, where Faith underwent four rounds of chemotherapy.
Faith has been instrumental with her involvement in Children's Miracle Network Hospitals' fundraising for Cottage Children's Medical Center. Every year, May is Miracle Month at Costco – where her parents work – and it's during this time that the warehouse asks customers at the register if they'd like to make a donation.
Faith's photo is displayed prominently on a banner to serve as an inspiration for the impact the community can have on saving kids' lives. Now 13 years old, Faith has been cancer-free for two years.
This year, the warehouse hosted its inaugural Memorial Day Miracle Walk/Run and BBQ, where Faith and her mom headed up the walkers, while her dad led the charge of runners. Thanks to their efforts (and those of their work family), Costco is Cottage's top CMNH corporate partner in the community.
Award Recipient Jasmin Castro
Unexplained bleeding prompted Jasmin's mom to rush her to the closest Emergency Room in Ojai, Calif., when she was just 1 year old. She was quickly transferred to nearby Cottage Children's Medical Center where an egg-sized mass was discovered, diagnosed as a germ cell tumor.
"We were told she might only have five days to live," said Jasmin's mom, Juana, as the growth rapidly increased to the size of a lemon, then to that of an orange.
Jasmin spent a month in Cottage's Pediatric Intensive Care Unit before moving to the Acute Pediatrics floor. The family "practically lived" at Cottage for six months, as Jasmin underwent intense chemotherapy; treatment at such a young age resulted in some hearing loss.
She overcame the odds but was faced with another challenge years later when she turned 15. That's when Jasmin collapsed from an aneurysm.
Again she was taken to Cottage, where she spent a little more than three weeks in the ICU in an induced coma. Afterwards, she had to relearn how to walk and talk.
Today, 17-year-old Jasmin is in good health and recently shared her experiences on Spanish radio with her family during the Children's Miracle Network Radio Bronco 107.7 Radiothon.
Her entire family, who took time out of their busy schedule, donned Cottage Children's Medical Center shirts and rallied donations during rush hour on the corner of Milpas Street alongside the station's DJ, collecting more than $1,200 from passersby to help kids like Jasmin at Cottage.
About Duckprints Award Recipient Anita Williamson
Seeing a picture of her friend's young daughter undergoing chemotherapy in a hospital gown marked "Property of Cottage Hospital," Anita was inspired to take action: There must be a friendlier, more comfortable outfit for kids facing cancer, she thought.
That was the moment she decided to do something.
Anita contacted her friends, Diane and Richard Nares, co-founders of the Emilio Nares Foundation in San Diego (enfhope.org). The organization helps low-income and underserved families meet basic needs associated with caring for a sick child, and it honors the memory of the couple's 5-year-old son, who passed away due to acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL). Through the Emilio Nares Foundation, Anita purchased and then donated to Cottage Children's Medical Center a total of 300 soft, colorful Loving Tabs T-shirts designed with snap openings at the shoulder and sleeve to allow for easy port access during infusion treatments. Her donation was in honor of the doctors who cared for her during a recent hospital stay.
Thanks to Anita's generosity, patients at Cottage's Grotenhuis Pediatric Clinics are able to receive the garments for free and can take them home and reuse them for future treatments.
Anita plans to establish a program that will continue to benefit all children undergoing cancer treatment in the future, which will enhance the comfort of pediatric patients.
When a policyholder gets sick or hurt, Aflac pays cash benefits fast. For more than six decades, Aflac insurance policies have given policyholders the opportunity to focus on recovery, not financial stress. In the United States, Aflac is the leader in voluntary insurance sales at the worksite. Through its trailblazing One Day PaySM initiative, Aflac U.S. can receive, process, approve and disburse payment for eligible claims in one business day. In Japan, Aflac is the leading provider of medical and cancer insurance, and insures 1 in 4 households. Aflac insurance products help provide protection to more than 50 million people worldwide. For 11 consecutive years, Aflac has been recognized by Ethisphere as one of the World's Most Ethical Companies. In 2017, Fortune magazine recognized Aflac as one of the 100 Best Companies to Work For in America for the 19th consecutive year and included Aflac on its list of Most Admired Companies for the 16th time. In 2015, Aflac's contact centers were recognized by J.D. Power by providing "An Outstanding Customer Service Experience" for the Live Phone Channel. Aflac Incorporated is a Fortune 500 company listed on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol AFL. To find out more about Aflac and One Day PaySM, visit aflac.com or espanol.aflac.com.
Aflac herein means American Family Life Assurance Company of Columbus and American Family Life Assurance Company of New York.
Aflac media contact – Kristen Fraser, 706.580.3813 or email@example.com
Aflac analyst and investor contact – David A. Young, 706.596.3264 or 800.235.2667, FAX 706.324.6330, or firstname.lastname@example.org
Cottage Children's Medical Center media contact - Maria Zate, 805-879-8986 or email@example.com
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