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9/29/15news article

a family, a nurse and optimism - all honored for fighting childhood cancer

Aflac Duckprints Campaign soars to Dayton to celebrate families and friends who make a difference

Aflac, the leading provider of voluntary insurance at the work site in the United States, today honored heroes who have left a giant footprint in the fight against childhood cancer. The event was part of the company’s Duckprints campaign, a national celebration of individuals and groups who leave their footprints in the fight against childhood cancer.

The honorees were 15-year-old cancer patient Colin Beach and his mother Maureen Beach, who while fighting numerous bouts with childhood cancer shared their experience to raise money for other cancer patients; Dayton Children’s Hospital pediatric cancer nurse Robbie Mirisciotti, RN, a 20-year veteran caregiver who is known and loved by thousands of children and families who have experienced her care; and the Centerville Noon Optimist Club, a fellowship of people who have donated nearly $100,000 to Dayton Children’s Hospital for children battling cancer.

“Since beginning the Duckprints program in 2013, Aflac has had the privilege of honoring people from coast to coast and in middle America,” Aflac Foundation President Kathelen Amos said. “At every stop, we are amazed by those like Colin, Maureen, Robbie and the Centerville Noon Optimist Club that focus on others, even when on many days no one would blame them for thinking of themselves. They are selfless ambassadors of the Duckprints Award, and we are proud to acknowledge their courage and grace today in their hometown of Dayton.”

According to the American Cancer Society, the five-year survival rate for childhood cancer today exceeds 80 percent compared to less than 60 percent in the mid-1970s. And while cancer remains the most prevalent cause of death by disease for children, only a small percentage of government cancer funding goes toward childhood cancer. Aflac recently celebrated a major milestone, having contributed more than $100 million to assist in improving the treatment and research for childhood cancer. Each month, Aflac’s independent sales associates contribute nearly $500,000 from their commission checks to this cause.

“Dayton Children’s Hospital is proud to have some of the most valiant warriors in the fight against pediatric cancer be recognized with Aflac DuckPrints Awards,” said Debbie Feldman, president and CEO of Dayton Children’s Hospital. “Each of these honorees puts his or her heart and soul into providing comfort for sick children; to raising awareness about the need children’s hospitals have for treating kids with cancer and to fighting this disease day in and day out. Dayton Children’s, like Aflac, is committed to providing outstanding care for children and families battling pediatric cancer. These awards are a celebration of those who selflessly work to make a difference in the lives of children.”

In addition to conducting Duckprints celebrations across the nation, Aflac is calling on unsung heroes across America to become active in the cause. The company is donating $2 for any Duckprints-related social actions taken on social media, including:

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 - $2 per view of the Duckprints videos on YouTube.
Instagram - $2 for every post using the hashtag #Duckprints.

Aflac also created a website (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.

Colin and Maureen Beach

Every mother and child share a bond, but Colin and his mom Maureen Beach are bonded together not only in love, but in battle - in a war on cancer. When he was only 5 months old, they discovered Colin had a rare cancer that caused 11 tumors in his eyes. This would leave him blind in his left eye.

Colin was missing a portion of a chromosome that helped his body fight cancer, so he developed a second rare cancer, this time in his soft tissue. With chemotherapy being too tough a treatment for his body to handle and radiation more likely to trigger other cancers, Colin’s only option was surgery. He has had more surgeries in his short 15 years than most adults ever have – his family stopped counting at 30.

Through it all, Maureen has been his shield and his sword, never giving up. It is the oath she took as a mother holding her child with cancer – to fight, be his advocate, find the best care, make every decision with the best possible information and never look back.

What Colin has lost in sight he has gained in strength of will and the size of his heart. He became an ambassador for Dayton Children’s Hospital, sharing his story to encourage others in their fight against cancer. Sharing his story also resulted in a $5 million donation toward a new patient tower at Dayton Children’s that will house a state-of-the-art center specially equipped to accommodate the special needs of children in their crusade against cancer.

Colin has also furthered cancer research by letting doctors and residents study the progression of his disease in hopes of helping other children survive. He is passionate about working to make life more comfortable for children all over the world and has inspired others to do the same: from those on his swim team to those he led as student council president.

While this will be a lifelong battle for Colin and his mom, they face it with determination and dedication to each other. They are lighting the way on the path of battling cancer, hoping to make the journey easier for any child who must follow in their footsteps.

Robbie Mirisciotti, RN

Don’t be afraid to give your heart. As a pediatric cancer nurse at Dayton Children’s Hospital, registered nurse Robbie Mirisciotti lives those words of advice. She remembers almost every child she’s ever helped through the difficult diagnosis of cancer. She can recall their family’s names and the quirky little details that make every child unique – such as which stuffed animal a boy liked to hold during chemo or how a little girl would go “grocery shopping” for the medications she needed. Thousands of children have met and loved Robbie in her 20 years in the department, and each one holds a special place in her memory – and in her heart.

This is Robbie’s calling – to walk with a family through their crisis. It is an intense relationship and not one that can be done in half measures. She connects with the child to offer the individualized care that will make all the difference. She is honored by the trust they place in her and is always up for the challenge of guiding them on their path.

With constant research, Robbie knows there is always hope that around the corner or with the next trial, a major breakthrough could help her kids. Her competitive spirit encourages her kids and their families to face their challenges head-on. Her reserve of strength allows a family to make the right choices for them and their child. By welcoming every child and family with an open heart, it grows stronger and better able to support the next child and family who may need her resilience, compassion and love.

Centerville Noon Optimist Club

Fighting cancer is a journey, not an event. It’s a trial that tests your endurance, commitment and determination to defeat this disease. There are days that you feel your spirit lagging and your strength waning. It is on those days you need the spark of a smile, the gift of a grin. You need an optimist to renew your resolution.

The Centerville Noon Optimist Club is a fellowship of people who embrace an optimistic mindset to set an example for the community. As a friend of youth, the Optimist Club’s mission is to provide positive programs and activities to benefit young people.

That’s why they are the perfect people to revive that sparkle in kids fighting cancer. Members host a Build-A-Bear event for cancer patients and their siblings twice a year. They also offer children a fun summer activity and invite them to the annual golf outing for a chip, putt and drive event. Annually, the club honors a caregiver at a breakfast celebration. These moments remind kids life isn’t only about fighting cancer.

The Optimist Club is also there to support treatment. They have donated nearly $100,000 to Dayton Children’s Hospital. Each year, proceeds from the Tom Frazier Tee-Off For Youth Golf Outing benefit programs like the hematology/oncology needy patient fund, the Treatment Away Fund for children needing to travel to other hospitals and the hematology/oncology outpatient clinic. Most recently, the Club made a $25,000 pledge for the Reaching New Heights campaign, a historic hospital campus renewal project. This gift will support the Outpatient Access Triage room in the new cancer center.

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 work site. Through its trailblazing One Day PaySM initiative, Aflac U.S. can receive, process, approve and disburse payment for eligible claims in one business day. In Japan, Aflac is a leading provider of medical and cancer insurance and insures 1 in 4 households. Aflac individual and group insurance products help provide protection to more than 50 million people worldwide. For nine consecutive years, Aflac has been recognized by Ethisphere magazine as one of the World's Most Ethical Companies. In 2015, Fortune magazine recognized Aflac as one of the 100 Best Companies to Work For in America for the 17th consecutive year. Also, in 2015, Fortune magazine included Aflac on its list of Most Admired Companies for the 14th time, ranking the company No. 1 in innovation for the insurance, life and health 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 and One Day PaySM, 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.

For more information, contact:
Stacy Porter
Communications specialists
Phone: 937-641-3666
newsroom@childrensdayton.org