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Coach Nick Saban, Ms. Terry Saban surprise children with award-winning My Special Aflac Duck®

Coach Nick Saban, Ms. Terry Saban surprise children with award-winning My Special Aflac Duck®

PR Newswire

Free-of-charge robotic companion helps comfort 18 pediatric cancer and sickle cell patients at Children's of Alabama

COLUMBUS, Ga., June 6, 2023 /PRNewswire/ -- Legendary Alabama football coach Nick Saban and Aflac Incorporated, a leading provider of health supplemental insurance in the U.S., expanded their starting lineup to include My Special Aflac Duck, a free-of-charge resource created for children ages 3 and up with cancer and sickle cell disease. In collaboration with Nick and Terry Saban and Aflac, Children's of Alabama hosted a special delivery event where 18 patients each received the social robot as part of Aflac's 28-year, $168-plus million philanthropic commitment supporting children with cancer and blood disorders.

Coach Nick Saban and Ms. Terry Saban surprise 18 pediatric cancer and sickle cell patients with free-of-charge My Special Aflac Duck at Children’s of Alabama

Since the program began five years ago, Aflac has delivered more than 23,000 ducks to children

"I've said it before and I'll say it again: I am happy to work with Aflac because it's a company of integrity," Coach Saban said. "As a coach, I've learned the team wins when everyone comes together, and that is what Aflac has been doing for children with cancer and blood disorders for nearly 28 years. I am proud to be a part of this team."

The award-winning, social robot uses medical play, lifelike movement and mimics emotions to engage and help comfort kids during their cancer or sickle cell disease journey. It was developed in partnership with Empath Labs after more than 18 months of research with children, families and health care providers to help children cope with their treatments.

"As a committed ally to children with cancer and blood disorders, Aflac continues our mission to help bring young patients and their families comfort and joy when needed most through My Special Aflac Duck," said Aflac U.S. President Virgil Miller. "Since the program began five years ago, we've delivered more than 23,000 ducks to children in the United States, Japan and Northern Ireland through hospitals and disease-focused organizations, free of charge to patients above the age of 3."

Recipients at the Magic City event participated in a My Special Aflac Duck demonstration before beginning an exciting scavenger hunt — including a clue reveal with Ms. Terry and Coach Saban — to meet their very own robotic companion. Following the hunt, patients and their families celebrated the new friendship through various activities like creating a birth certificate and beaded necklace for their duck, coloring and more.

"Children with cancer or blood disorders, such as sickle cell disease, spend a lot of time at the hospital, which can lead to stress or anxiety for these patients," said Emily Hornak, director of Cause Marketing and Corporate Partnerships at Children's of Alabama. "We are grateful to Aflac and the My Special Aflac Duck program for providing an innovative resource to enhance the care experience for the children and the families we serve."

Additional features of My Special Aflac Duck include an interactive mobile app that allows children to virtually bathe and feed their duck, customizable soundscapes that provide soothing visuals and sounds, smart sensors that enable touch and awareness of light and sounds, and a calming heartbeat and breathing vibrations. To help children express themselves, the duck comes with seven feelings emoji discs that, when tapped to a sensor on the duck's chest, prompt My Special Aflac Duck to emulate each emotion. Each My Special Aflac Duck costs about $200 to manufacture and deliver.

Health care providers, support organizations and families can order My Special Aflac Duck for children 3 years or older who have been diagnosed with cancer or sickle cell disease at


Aflac Incorporated (NYSE: AFL), a Fortune 500 company, has helped provide financial protection and peace of mind for more than 67 years to millions of policyholders and customers through its subsidiaries in the U.S. and Japan. In the U.S., Aflac is the No. 1 provider of supplemental health insurance products.1 In Japan, Aflac Life Insurance Japan is the leading provider of cancer and medical insurance policies in force. In 2021, the company became a signatory of the Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI). In 2022, the company was included in the Dow Jones Sustainability North America Index for the ninth year, the World's Most Ethical Companies by Ethisphere for the 17th consecutive year, Fortune's World's Most Admired Companies for the 22nd time and Bloomberg's Gender-Equality Index for the fourth consecutive year. To find out how to get help with expenses health insurance doesn't cover, get to know us at or Investors may learn more about Aflac Incorporated and its commitment to corporate social responsibility and sustainability at under "Sustainability."


Since 1911, Children's of Alabama has provided specialized medical care for ill and injured children, offering inpatient, outpatient and primary care throughout Central Alabama. Ranked among the best children's hospitals in the nation by U.S. News & World Report, Children's serves patients from every county in Alabama and nearly every state. Children's is a private, not-for-profit medical center that serves as the teaching hospital for the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) pediatric medicine, surgery, psychiatry, research and residency programs. The medical staff consists of UAB faculty and Children's full-time physicians, as well as private practicing community physicians.


Media contact: Jon Sullivan, 706-763-4813 or

Analyst and investor contact: David A. Young, 706-596-3264, 800-235-2667 or

1 LIMRA 2021 US Supplemental Health Insurance Total Market Report 

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