ANCHORAGE (KTUU) - She's one of Alaska's top youth volunteers. Fourteen-year-old Ashley Perry is from Anchorage. She and Carlee Rizzo, 17, from Kenai, are Alaska’s top two state honorees for 2019 in the prestigious Prudential Spirit of Community Awards.
It's the nation’s largest youth volunteer awards program honoring students in grades 5-12 for outstanding volunteer service. Perry's dad Jimmy said she was dealt a pretty severe hand at a young age. She's overcome a lot and all that she does comes from a place of hope, he says.
Perry was born with Turner Syndrome. It's a rare genetic disorder that only affects girls and makes her prone to infections. She quickly learned she was put here for a reason and wanted to make a difference.
"The way she lives her life it could be something people aspire to and the way she treats other people, the compassion she has for people that may be less fortunate than her," he said.
"I don't like being the center of attention in anything but I think it's pretty cool that I get to be a voice for other people that can start it," added Perry.
One of her programs pairs young readers with animals awaiting adoption. The hope is to build skills and confidence by reading out loud to animals. Then she founded Blessing Boxes. They're set outside of schools filled with non-perishable items for people that need it.
She also got a chance to be an Iditarider, where she was paired with Iditarod musher Wade Marrs. He races on behalf of Turner Syndrome and their friendship has turned into family.
"He's at our house all the time, he sleeps over, he's our brother," she said.
This year, the Perry family cheered Marrs on from the sidelines, while Ashley's volunteer service and efforts remain front and center.
Perry and Rizzo will travel to Washington D.C. in May to receive their awards.
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