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Extending a paw: Coach Dabo Swinney helps deliver My Special Aflac Duck® to children ahead of the Aflac Kickoff Game

Extending a paw: Coach Dabo Swinney helps deliver My Special Aflac Duck® to children ahead of the Aflac Kickoff Game

PR Newswire

Free-of-charge robotic companion helps comfort 17 pediatric cancer and sickle cell patients at Prisma Health Children's Hospital-Upstate in Greenville, South Carolina

COLUMBUS, Ga., May 28, 2024 /PRNewswire/ -- Two-time national champion Clemson University Head Football Coach Dabo Swinney, whose team will kick off the 2024 college football season against the Georgia Bulldogs in this year's Aflac Kickoff Game, surprised children at Prisma Health Children's Hospital-Upstate with My Special Aflac Duck, a free-of-charge resource created for children ages 3 and up with cancer and sickle cell disease. In partnership with Aflac, a leading provider of health supplemental insurance in the U.S., Coach Swinney, Aflac U.S. President Virgil Miller and the famous Clemson Tiger delivered My Special Aflac Ducks, helping the children and their families enjoy a great day of fun activities.

Watching the children interact with My Special Aflac Duck shows how we can come together to make a difference

"As Clemson prepares for the upcoming football season, the Tiger and I are excited to team up with Aflac at Prisma Health Children's Hospital-Upstate as we get ready for the Aflac Kickoff Game in August," Coach Swinney said. "Our work today impacts both our local community and the pediatric cancer and blood disorder community. Watching the children interact with My Special Aflac Duck shows how we can come together to make a difference on and off the field, and I'm truly honored to be a part of it."

Since 2018, the award-winning animatronic duck has helped bring more than 30,000 kids comfort and joy during very challenging times. The social robot comes to life using innovative technology, helping kids prepare for medical procedures, communicate their feelings, practice distraction techniques and more. The delivery at Prisma Health Children's Hospital-Upstate comes on the heels of a three-year study released April 5, revealing that both parents and caregivers reported a reduction in distress, nausea, pain and treatment — and procedural anxiety — for their children who received My Special Aflac Duck, compared to those in the study who had not yet received a duck. My Special Aflac Duck was named one of Time Magazine's 50 Best Inventions and named Best in Show at CES and South by Southwest in 2018.

Also present at the event was the famed Clemson University mascot, The Tiger, who is set to face off in the Aflac Kickoff Game Mascot Challenge. The mascot will compete at Tailgate Town on Aug. 31, participating in football-inspired activities to bring awareness to childhood cancer and raise funds for the local children's hospital. The champion will be announced during the Aflac Kickoff Game broadcast on ABC at noon EDT.

Coach Swinney, the winningest head coach in Clemson football history, was joined by Aflac U.S. President Virgil Miller, Prisma Health Executive Vice President and Chief Clinical Officer Dr. Jonathan Gleason, as well as patients, parents and health care providers at the hospital. The day included a demonstration of My Special Aflac Duck as well as fun activities for the young patients, including a scavenger hunt that culminated in each child receiving their very own My Special Aflac Duck.

"The My Special Aflac Duck program has become a hallmark of our commitment to helping families with pediatric cancer and blood disorders such as sickle cell. We are thankful to Coach Swinney and the wonderful staff at Prisma Health Children's Hospital-Upstate for teaming up with Aflac today to help these children and their care providers," said Aflac U.S. President Virgil Miller. "To date, Aflac has given more than 30,000 ducks and donated more than $180 million to childhood cancer and blood disorders. A recent three-year clinical trial confirmed what we knew intuitively that this robotic companion helps young patients cope with treatment-related distress and anxiety. We will continue to bring awareness to this important cause through the Aflac Kickoff Game in partnership with Peach Bowl Inc."

"We sincerely appreciate Coach Swinney joining the My Special Aflac Duck delivery today and visiting with these young patients and their families to provide a resource that will have a positive impact on these children during their medical journey," said Gary Stokan, Peach Bowl Inc. CEO and president.

"We're grateful to Aflac for its commitment to helping children with cancer and blood disorders such as sickle cell disease — and especially for its commitment to helping children here in the Upstate," said Dr. Robin LaCroix, medical director of the Prisma Health Children's Hospital-Upstate. "This incredible, utterly huggable technology creates an interactive experience that gives children coping tools to help reduce stress and pain and even brings fun and laughter into what can be a difficult time for children and their families. It is wonderful that Coach Swinney, a long-term champion of Prisma Health Children's Hospital-Upstate, has joined forces with Aflac to yet again bring smiles to the faces of the families we serve."

Health care providers, support organizations and families can order My Special Aflac Duck free of charge 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 68 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 in terms of policies in force. The company takes pride in being there for its policyholders when they need us most, as well as being included in the World's Most Ethical Companies by Ethisphere for 18 consecutive years (2024), Fortune's World's Most Admired Companies for 23 years (2024) and Bloomberg's Gender-Equality Index for the fourth consecutive year (2023). In addition, the company became a signatory of the Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI) in 2021 and has been included in the Dow Jones Sustainability North America Index (2023) for 10 years. 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." 

1 LIMRA 2022 US Supplemental Health Insurance Total Market Report  


Prisma Health is a private nonprofit health company and the largest health care organization in South Carolina. The company has 29,309 team members, 18 acute and specialty hospitals, 2,827 licensed beds, 305 practice sites, and more than 5,400 employed and independent clinicians across its clinically integrated inVio Health Network. Along with this innovative network, Prisma Health serves almost 1.5 million unique patients annually in its 21-county market area that covers 50% of South Carolina. Connect with Prisma Health on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn and Twitter/X.

Clemson University Head Football Coach Dabo Swinney joined Aflac U.S. President Virgil Miller to hand out My Special Aflac Ducks to patients at Prisma Health Children’s Hospital - Upstate Tuesday, May 28.

 Pictured left to right: The Clemson Tiger, Kathleen Swinney, Dabo Swinney, Amir Boyd, Tenesha Boyd and Virgil Miller.

Media contacts: 

Amy Persons,

Jon Sullivan, 706-573-7610 or 

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

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