ANCHORAGE, ALASKA, September 19, 2023 — The American Heart Association, a global force for healthier lives for all, recognized Sherry Smith, a migrant education student success coach at Mirror Lake Middle School as the Outstanding American Heart Challenge (AHC) Coordinator recipient for the Association’s in-school programs, Kids Heart Challenge™ and American Heart Challenge™.  The national award, given annually, was announced during the association’s Kids Heart Challenge and American Heart Challenge awards ceremony held virtually on September 12. 

“We are incredibly proud of Sherry and the students at Mirror Lake Middle School for all of their work in championing student health and supporting the American Heart Association,” said Kristin George, Executive Director, American Heart Association, Alaska. “Schools play a vital role in building a foundation of healthy living for future generations and we are thrilled to see our lifesaving mission touch the lives of students, schools, families and educators right here in Anchorage.” 

The Outstanding American Heart Challenge (AHC) Coordinator award is given each year to an educator who has seen significant growth in their AHC program and who passionately and creatively leads the school campaign to engage students, families, co-workers and school staff. 

Smith was nominated by local American Heart Association staff for her work to engaged students and school leadership and maximize the mission impact of the AHC program. The team kicked off their local effort in February, American Heart Month, by hosting a school wide assembly, followed by an after-school neon themed “Glow for Heart” fundraising event. The first week in February was also deemed Spirit Week which included an all-red day. 

“It’s truly an honor to be recognized by the American Heart Association for our American Heart Challenge campaign last school year,” said Sherry Smith, recipient, Outstanding American Heart Challenge (AHC) Coordinator award. “It was the third year of the program and our students and families raised $7,500 for the mission of the American Heart Association. Preparations are already underway for this year and the Cayotes are looking forward to an even bigger campaign this year.” 

With a foundation set in physical activity, Kids Heart Challenge and American Heart Challenge have expanded beyond the gymnasium to meet the needs of today’s youth and educators as science has proven the strong connection between physical and mental health. Kids Heart Challenge offers a variety of physical activities to get elementary students’ hearts pumping such as dance, basketball or jumping rope paired with digital mission to learn life-saving skills such as Hands-Only CPR™. The American Heart Challenge is a service-learning program for middle and high school students. The program also helps boost heart health and self-esteem, while reducing stress and anxiety through programs featuring yoga, dance, and obstacle courses. 

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ 2018 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans,[1] only 20% of kids get enough activity to meet physical activity recommendations. Both the Kids Heart Challenge and American Heart Challenge are rooted in proven science, which has shown that kids who are regularly active have a better chance of a healthy adulthood. 

To learn more about American Heart Association youth-based programs visit


About the American Heart Association

The American Heart Association is a leading force for a world of longer, healthier lives. With nearly a century of lifesaving work, the Dallas-based association is dedicated to ensuring equitable health for all. We are a trustworthy source empowering people to improve their heart health, brain health and well-being. We collaborate with numerous organizations and millions of volunteers to fund innovative research, advocate for stronger public health policies, and share lifesaving resources and information. Connect with us on, Facebook, X or by calling 1-800-AHA-USA1. In Alaska, connect with us on, on Facebook, Instagram or X

For Media Inquiries:

Valerie Koch,

Public Inquiries: 1-800-AHA-USA1 (242-8721)