Aflac aims to top $100 million in battle against childhood cancer

Columbus firm, employees, agents already have raised more than $87 million for research, treatment

tadams@ledger-enquirer.comJanuary 8, 2014 

Already having raised more than $87 million for childhood cancer, Aflac said Wednesday it and the company’s employees and sales agents have set their sights on topping $100 million by the close of 2015.

“Aflac’s ambitious goal of reaching $100 million by 2015 will help propel research forward to cure children with cancer across the country, giving hope that more of our kids will grow to have children of their own. You just can’t put a price on that,” Dr. William G. Woods said in a statement. He’s the director of the Aflac Cancer and Blood Disorders Center of Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta and is a professor at Emory University School of Medicine.

Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta has a long history with the Columbus-based supplemental health and life insurer. It was in 1995 that the hospital asked the company for $25,000 to renovate one of its floors, with Aflac donating $3 million instead.

That initial effort over nearly two decades has mushroomed to the $87 million figure, with the money raised through corporate and employee donations, and the philanthropy of the firm’s independent sales agents. Aflac said agents who sell its policies voluntarily give a combined $445,000 every month from their commissions.

Aflac Foundation President Kathelen Amos said it’s time to “defeat childhood cancer once and for all.”

Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta treats more than 350 new cancer patients annually, but the toll is much higher. The National Cancer Institute says — despite improving survival rates — cancer kills more youths age 15 and under than any other illness, with cancer diagnosis impacting more than 10,000 in that age group in 2007 alone.

“As federal funding for cancer research continues to decline, our support is not only meaningful, but critical to continuing important work that will find cures and improve outcomes for pediatric cancer patients,” Amos said.

Through the years, Aflac has used periodic donations, plush holiday duck sales at retailer Macy’s, and social media promotions to raise cash for the cancer cause.

Aflac Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Dan Amos likened the steady, sustained effort to a boxing match of sorts, noting the resolve and bravery of the child cancer victims to overcome their illness.

“With every bone marrow transplant, every medical breakthrough, and with every young patient who walks out of our hospital on the road to adulthood, our sales agents and employees renew their commitment to delivering a knockout blow to childhood cancer,” he said.

As part of its “Duckprints” social media effort, Aflac through the end of January is donating $2 for each action participants take. That includes:

• Twitter — $2 for tweets using the hashtag #duckprints or retweets of duckprints-related tweets

• Facebook — $2 for any share of specific posts related to duckprints or using #duckprints

• YouTube views — $2 for each view of duckprints videos

• ShareThis — $2 for each duckprints-related video shared

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