Harris selected by First Lady as a Volunteer of the Year

Harris worked to found the Alaska Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association

A Soldotna resident, Cindy Harris, on Tuesday was counted among seven recipients of the First Lady’s Volunteer of the Year award. Recipients are selected from around Alaska by first lady Rose Dunleavy and her selection committee, according to a release from the Office of the Governor.

“It’s always a great honor to award these hardworking Alaskans who do not often receive recognition,” says Dunleavy in the release. “These individuals are selfless, caring, and make positive impacts on the lives of other Alaskans and our communities.”

Harris, the release says, is a “champion” for people and families dealing with Alzheimer’s disease in Alaska. In 2010, Harris’ mother died after 13 years battling the disease, and in the years following, Harris saw the opening of the Alaska chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association and became the state’s first and only Alzheimer’s Ambassador. The release says that before Harris’ efforts, Alaska was the only state without a chapter of the association.

“Without Cindy Harris, Alaska would not have progressed as far as it has in raising awareness surrounding Alzheimer’s disease,” the release reads.

According to previous Clarion reporting, Harris was named Advocate of the Year by the Alzheimer’s Association during a forum in Washington, D.C., the same year the Alaska chapter of the association opened.

At that time, she told the Clarion that she had herself reached out to the association in 2014 to increase their presence in the state — that year, she organized the first local instance of “The Longest Day,” an annual fundraising event that takes place on the summer solstice.

On Facebook, the Alaska Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association celebrated Harris’ award.

“We are proud and honored to call her a dedicated volunteer, advocate, and board member for the Alaska Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association,” the post reads. “Cindy’s advocacy and unrelenting dedication to the fight to end Alzheimer’s has helped provide education, support, and policies at the federal, state, and local levels that are improving the lives of Alaskans affected by Alzheimer’s and their families.”

For more information about Alzheimer’s Association Alaska, visit facebook.com/alzassnalaska.

Reach reporter Jake Dye at jacob.dye@peninsulaclarion.com.