COLUMBUS, Ga., Jan. 8, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- Aflac, the sales leader for worksite/voluntary insurance in the United States and one of FORTUNE's 2013 World's Most Admired Companies, has surpassed the $87 million mark for funds raised to support the treatment and research of childhood cancer. The company, whose contributions are sustained in large part by thousands of independent agents who voluntarily donate more than $445,000 each month from their commission checks, has set a new goal of raising a total of $100 million by the end of 2015. Aflac's primary philanthropic cause is its sponsorship of the Aflac Cancer and Blood Disorders Center of Children's Healthcare of Atlanta, which treats more than 350 new cancer patients each year making it one of the largest childhood cancer centers in the country.
"The life-saving work at the Aflac Cancer and Blood Disorders Center has inspired a universal commitment from Aflac sales agents, employees and executive staff to defeat childhood cancer once and for all," Aflac Foundation President Kathelen Amos said. "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. The legacy attached to the unprecedented generosity of our commissioned agents goes to the heart and soul of who and what Aflac stands for. We stand together with pediatric cancer patients and their families around the country."
Aflac's association with childhood cancer began in 1995, when Chairman and CEO Dan Amos was approached by Children's Healthcare of Atlanta requesting a $25,000 donation to help make renovations to the floor where they treated children with cancer and blood disorders. Aflac responded with a $3 million donation that has grown to $87 million today, fusing the Aflac Cancer Center with the company's culture.
"You cannot work for Aflac without being deeply impacted by brave kids who face cancer with the steely resolve of a champion prizefighter," Dan Amos said. "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 knock-out blow to childhood cancer."According to the National Cancer Institute, the five-year survival rates for all childhood cancers combined increased from 58.1 percent in 1977 to 79.6 percent in 2003. In 2007, approximately 10,400 children age 15 or younger were diagnosed with cancer in the United States. Cancer remains the leading cause of death by illness in the U.S. for people that are 15 or younger. "There is simply no way that we would be among the leading childhood cancer and blood disorder centers in the country without the generosity of Aflac and their sales agents who give so much." Dr. William G. Woods, M.D. Director, Aflac Cancer and Blood Disorders Center of Children's Healthcare of Atlanta and Professor at Emory University School of Medicine said. "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." To reach the $100 million goal, Aflac is currently conducting several campaigns to enlist public support, including its Duckprints initiative, which honors heroes who leave their footprints in the fight against children's cancer. As part of the program, the company is donating $2 to the Aflac Cancer Center for any duckprints-related social actions taken on various social mediums up to $2 million through the end of the month. Related social actions include:
- 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 per every view of the duckprints videos on YouTube.
- ShareThis - $2 for every duckprints related video shared.
- In 2001, Aflac initiated funding of the Aflac Cancer Center's Childhood Cancer Survivorship Program, which is now one of the nation's leading programs focusing solely on post-therapy health and medical issues of childhood cancer survivors.
- Funded the construction of new inpatient and outpatient facilities, a state-of-the-art pediatric research building, and endowments for the Family Support Team and Fellowship Program.
- Earlier this year Aflac announced its participation in the TOMODACHI Initiative, a joint enterprise led by the United States Government and the U.S.-Japan Council. TOMODACHI is a public-private partnership that invests in the next generation of Japanese and Americans in ways that strengthen relationships between the United States and Japan over the long-term.
- In 2010, Aflac teamed with Beads of Courage to create pewter Aflac Duck Wingman beads that are sponsored by caring people and given to children as they begin their treatments for a serious illness like cancer. The bead signifies to each child that he or she is not alone in his or her fight against the disease. Beads of Courage is a nonprofit, international organization that helps children chronicle their unique stories using beads that commemorate milestones and procedures during their treatment for cancer.
- Aflac has donated more than $1.2 million since 2005 to the Children's Oncology Group (COG), a national cancer institute devoted exclusively to childhood and adolescent cancer research. COG uses these funds, in part, to conduct ground-breaking research aimed at determining why survival rates from cancer treatments vary between childhood and adolescent cancer patients in hopes of determining which practices work best for each group.