Aflac ducks go to kids with cancer
By Jessica Hardin
A sweet smile lit up 5-year-old Jeray Rojas’ face when he received his My Special Aflac Duck at Akron Children’s Hospital Mahoning Valley.
Jeray is in treatment for pediatric leukemia. He finished multiple years of chemotherapy last month, said his physician Dr. Daniel Pettee.
Jeray is also one of the first patients of Akron Children’s to receive the animated stuffed animal.
American Family Life Assurance Company of Columbus, Ga., has partnered with Children’s Miracle Network to provide a free duck to every child diagnosed with cancer in the country.
“That’s 42 children each day,” Carl Foote, an Aflac sales associate, said Wednesday morning.
The duck is like a living stuffed animal. It can interact with the child and even play soothing sounds and music to calm the child. The duck even comes with a medication port, so it can get treatment while the child does.
When the port is removed, “the duck lets out a sigh of relief that treatment is done,” said Kelsey Moreton, development coordinator at Akron Children’s.
Each duck also comes with a backpack that contains emoji tokens, and the duck responds to each one. For example, when the child places the sick emoji token to the duck’s chest, it lets out a groaning quack.
The idea behind the tokens is the duck can help the children express themselves and how they are feeling.
“When children go through treatment, it’s lonesome,” explained Moreton. “The duck is a companion for the child.”