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Aflac and The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center Honor Three Leaders in Fight Against Childhood Cancer

HOUSTON, July 23, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- Aflac, the leading provider of voluntary insurance in the United States, presented its 2014 Duckprints Award to local heroes at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center Children's Art Project in Houston. The Duckprints Award is Aflac's way of honoring people who have left their footprints in the fight against childhood cancer. The event, held at MD Anderson, recognized the following three individuals who have dedicated themselves to this cause.

  • Caitlyn Mortus — who faced Burkitt's lymphoma at age 13 which inspired her to get involved with Children's Art Project during her treatment at MD Anderson.
  • Mia Gradney – news anchor at Houston's KHOU-TV and a huge friend to the Children's Art Project, who includes the program in many of her philanthropic efforts.
  • Kendra Scott – jewelry designer who has consistently given back to the hospital by hosting promotional events for the Children's Art Project.
Mia Gradney with KHOU, left Kendra Scott jewelry designer, Catherine Blades SVP Corporate Communications for Aflac, Caitlyn Mortus, 18 year-old patient designer pose with Aflac Duck during the Aflac Duckprints event at MD Anderson, 07/23/14.

"Aflac is proud to honor these three caring individuals who have worked selflessly to help eradicate children's cancer," said Kathelen Amos, President of the Aflac Foundation. "Their unrelenting concern for people who need them most exemplifies the values that Aflac, our employees and our independent agents who give so generously for this worthy cause, value so dearly. We are pleased to present them with our Duckprints award."

"The Children's Art Project provides our young patients with an opportunity to create original artwork which is featured on gift merchandise benefiting important patient programs," said Shannan Murray, executive director of the program.  "We're honored Aflac is recognizing the talents of our patients and those who have given so much over the years, which has enabled us to return more than $31 million since our beginning."

Earlier this year, Aflac announced its goal of exceeding the $100 million mark for contributions to childhood cancer by the end of 2015. Since 1995, the company has raised and contributed $90 million, including monthly contributions of more than $400,000 from the company's independent sales agents. 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 will donate $2 for any duckprints-related social actions taken on various social mediums up to $2 million. 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

To support the Aflac Duckprints initiative, Aflac also created a 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 Recipient Caitlyn Mortus, Katy TX
A diagnosis of Burkitt's lymphoma at age 13 inspired Caitlyn Mortus to get involved with the Children's Art Project during her treatment at MD Anderson. After intense and ultimately successful treatment from the doctors and nurses at MD Anderson, Caitlyn became a regularly featured designer, with seven designs featured in the 2013 collection alone.

Additionally, Caitlyn has participated in Camp A. O. K. (funded by the Children's Art Project) each of the last four years, where she learned that being bald was no big deal at camp as all the other kids understood – they were patients, too. 

Her desire to help others grew out of her treatment and also inspired her to pursue a career as an anesthesiologist so she can help patients the same way doctors once helped her. Caitlyn completed high school this year and looks forward to attending the University of Texas at Tyler to start her college journey in the classroom and on the soccer field.

Caitlyn returned this year with her "Ladybugs" design featured in the Valentine collection, and her "Button Tree" design is planned to be featured on a 2014 Holiday card. Visit http://www.childrensart.org/ to see her beautiful work.

About Duckprints Award Recipient Mia Gradney, Houston, TX
KHOU 11 News Reporter/Anchor Mia Gradney is a huge fan and friend of MD Anderson's Children's Art Project. A native Houstonian and three-time Emmy award winning anchor/host, reporter and producer, Mia has covered everything from Hollywood premieres, to hurricanes and health headlines, but always makes time to assist the Children's Art Program in any way that she can. Mia frequently involves the program in her philanthropic and community efforts and hosts events benefiting the Children's Art Project. 

About Duckprints Award Recipient Kendra Scott, Austin, TX
In 2002, with just $500, Kendra Scott launched a mini-jewelry collection.  Today, Kendra Scott Jewelry is a global; multimillion-dollar brand sold at renowned retailers like Nordstrom, Neiman Marcus, Bloomingdales and more than 1,000 specialty boutiques worldwide. After Kendra's stepfather became ill she became "forever grateful for his treatment and care while at MD Anderson."  Philanthropy is a driving force for this savvy entrepreneur and mother to three boys, so it is no surprise that MD Anderson's youngest patients hold a very special place in her heart. Kendra has consistently given back to the hospital by hosting promotional events and raising donations for Children's Art Project.

About Aflac
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 MD Anderson
The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston ranks as one of the world's most respected centers focused on cancer patient care, research, education and prevention. MD Anderson is one of only 41 comprehensive cancer centers designated by the National Cancer Institute (NCI). For the past 25 years, MD Anderson has ranked as one of the nation's top two cancer centers in U.S. News & World Report's annual "Best Hospitals" survey. MD Anderson receives a cancer center support grant from the NCI of the National Institutes of Health (P30 CA016672).

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Media contacts – Jon Sullivan, 706.763.4813 or jsullivan@aflac.com
William Fitzgerald (MD Anderson) 713.792.9518 or WBFitzgerald@mdanderson.org

Analyst and investor contact – Robin Y. Wilkey, 706.596.3264 or 800.235.2667, FAX: 706.324.6330, or rwilkey@aflac.com.

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