COLUMBIA, S.C., June 4, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- Aflac, the leading provider of voluntary insurance in the United States, presented its first 2014 Duckprints Awards to local (South Carolina) heroes for their commitment in the fight against childhood cancer. The event, held at Palmetto Health Children's Hospital in Columbia, South Carolina, recognized three individuals and families who have dedicated themselves to helping improve treatment and seeking a cure for children's cancer.
The three Aflac Duckprints Award recipients at Palmetto Health Children's Hospital are:
- Rob and Risha Teal — Parents of Bayler Teal, who lost his fight with cancer at age seven. Rob and Risha remain committed to fighting the fight and created an endowment at Palmetto Health Foundation in Bayler's memory.
- Dr. Kevin McRedmond — Former pediatric hematologist/oncologist at Palmetto Health Children's Hospital; now chief medical officer at Hands of Hope, Hospice Care of South Carolina.
- Harold Bessent — Long-time donor and fundraiser for CAMP KEMO, led by Palmetto Health Children's Hospital.
Hosting today's event was MSNBC news anchor and NBC news correspondent Craig Melvin, who hails from Columbia, S.C. Melvin spent a portion of his journalism career in Columbia. In early 2013, Craig's three-year-old niece Jasmine was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer called Ewing's Sarcoma. Complications put Jasmine in a Washington, D.C. children's hospital for nearly three months, and only six months following the diagnosis, Jasmine died.
"Unfortunately, my family has significant and painful experiences with childhood cancer, which makes it very personal for us," Mr. Melvin said. "But you don't have to experience this terrible disease to see its impact and to make it your personal mission to help stamp out childhood cancer."
"Aflac could not be more proud to honor the large footprint left by people like the Teal family, Dr. McRedmond and Mr. Bessent who personify the care and dedication we need to eventually eradicate children's cancer," said Kathelen Amos, President of the Aflac Foundation. "Through altruism, passion and even pain, these individuals have shown themselves to be true soldiers in this cause, which our company, employees and sales agents have embraced for nearly 20 years."
"Our honorees exemplify passion, dedication and commitment in the fight against childhood cancer," said Samuel Tenenbaum, president, Palmetto Health Foundation. "Uniting with Aflac for the Duckprints awards helps us shine a light on wonderful people who are making an impact in our community."
Earlier this year, Aflac announced its new goal of reaching the $100 million mark for contributions to childhood cancer. Since 1995, the company has raised and contributed more than $90 million. As part of the Duckprints campaign, Aflac is calling on unsung heroes across America to become active in the cause. People can get involved by taking to social media to talk about childhood cancer. Aflac is donating $2 for any duckprints-related social actions taken on various social mediums up to $2 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 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
To support the Aflac Duckprints initiative, Aflac also created a new website called 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 who have made a difference in the fight against childhood cancer. In addition, merchandise such as plush Aflac Ducks and Duckprints related t-shirts, slippers and other items will be available for purchase at aflacduckprints.com with all of the net proceeds going toward the treatment and research of childhood cancer.
About Duckprints Award Recipients Rob & Risha Teal
Bayler Teal, diagnosed in September 2008, at age five, with Neuroblastoma, "was a strong, brave, courageous warrior against this beast we call cancer," and was treated by what his parents refer to as the "heaven-sent" Child Life specialists at Palmetto Health Children's Hospital. Bayler passed in 2010 at the age of seven, yet his parents Rob and Risha, along with siblings Bridges and Piper, remain stoically committed to the fight. Their story is one of loss, but sincere gratitude for the care they received at Palmetto Health Children's Hospital. "These special people were so patient, so compassionate, and so gentle, that they quickly gained Bayler's trust. The lengths they took to make such a terrible experience as comfortable as it could be was beyond any expectation we could have imagined. It was not the hospital experience of the old days where the attitude was 'we're the professionals and you're the patient, so do as we say and do it now'. They told us early in his journey, that they would allow Bayler to make as many decisions as possible, because it was so important that he know that he had not lost complete control of his life."
Bayler's legacy continues through the Bayler's Prayer Endowment established at Palmetto Health Foundation. Funds from the endowment help ensure the environment of love, patience, understanding, and yes – fun – provided by the staff and workers of the Children's Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders at Palmetto Health Children's Hospital in Columbia, SC continues.
About Duckprints Award Recipient Dr. Kevin McRedmond
Now retired from Palmetto Health Children's Hospital, Dr. McRedmond left his footprint in the fight through his practice of Hematology-Oncology for 22 years. He also served as a participating member of the Children's Oncology Group during that time and contributed to research studies, some of which were featured in the New England Journal of Medicine. Dr. McRedmond is extremely proud that this center was, and remains, the only federally-funded Hemophilia treatment center in South Carolina; more so, it continues to be the largest provider of care. Dr. McRedmond's legacy shines through the lives he has saved, and the families and doctors that he has inspired. Dr. McRedmond now serves as chief medical officer at Hands of Hope, Hospice Care of South Carolina.
About Duckprints Award Recipient Harold Bessent
A long-time Palmetto Health Foundation donor and fundraiser whose motivation was inspired many years ago when a relative's child was diagnosed with cancer, Mr. Bessent is the owner of famous Fat Harold's Beach Club in North Myrtle Beach, S.C He is a legend to the shag dance community as well as the kids who attend CAMP KEMO, a camp for children with cancer and their siblings, which is led by Palmetto Health Children's Hospital. In 1980, Bessent was introduced to the medical director for the Children's Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders at Palmetto Health Children's Hospital. Through this relationship, Bessent began shag dance fundraisers in 1981 and has continued them for 33 years; as of this year, his fundraisers have generated more than $1.2 million to support CAMP KEMO and its related programs.
About Craig Melvin
Craig Melvin began his career at local Columbia NBC affiliate WIS, and while there, participated in Palmetto Health Children's Hospital annual telethon and radiothon several times, becoming a perennial favorite among donors. He connected well with families and kids, was sincere, positive and fun, and the Columbia community warmly embraced his attitude towards helping those in need. A short time later, Craig's good work in Columbia sent him to the national stage as MSNBC Live anchor and an NBC News correspondent in New York.
When a policyholder gets sick or hurt, Aflac pays cash benefits fast. For nearly six decades, Aflac insurance policies have given policyholders the opportunity to focus on recovery, not financial stress. In the United States, Aflac is the leading provider of voluntary insurance at the worksite. In Japan, Aflac is the number one life insurance company in terms of individual policies in force. Aflac individual and group insurance products help provide protection to more than 50 million people worldwide. For eight consecutive years, Aflac has been recognized by Ethisphere magazine as one of the World's Most Ethical Companies. In 2014, FORTUNE magazine recognized Aflac as one of the 100 Best Companies to Work For in America for the 16th consecutive year. Also, in 2014, FORTUNE magazine included Aflac on its list of Most Admired Companies for the 13th time, ranking the company number one in the life and health insurance category. Aflac Incorporated is a Fortune 500 company listed on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol AFL. To find out more about Aflac, 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.
About Palmetto Health Children's Hospital
Palmetto Health Children's Hospital, South Carolina's first freestanding children's hospital, treats more than 80,000 sick and injured children in South Carolina annually in its inpatient and outpatient facilities. As a major pediatric referral center, Palmetto Health Children's Hospital offers more than 30 subspecialties devoted strictly to children.
About Palmetto Health Foundation
Palmetto Health Foundation, a 501 (c)(3) non-profit organization, engages community partners to enhance health care for patients and families served by Palmetto Health. For more, visit PalmettoHealthFoundation.org.
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