Volunteer spirit: Giving back makes Sun Spirit ‘feel good’

Leigh Ann “Sun Spirit” Fallis holds the Debbie Bates Award presented to her by the VFW Post 4075 Women’s Auxiliary recognizing her exceptional volunteer service. (Photo submitted)

Leigh Ann Fallis was recently honored as the recipient of the Debbie Bates Award for volunteer service given by the VFW Post 4075 Women’s Auxiliary.

Fallis, who prefers to be called by her Cherokee Indian name “Sun Spirit” that was given to her by her father, David Fallis, was recognized for the many ways in which she serves the community through volunteer efforts.

“Leigh Ann gives so much,” said Auxiliary President Iva Bingham. “She helps with bingo, all fundraising projects and is an active member of the Civitan Club and is very active in Special Olympics, where she competed when she was younger.”

The award is named for Bates who, according to Bingham, gave a lot to the community. It has been given annually since the 1970s.

Now 48, Fallis also works as a part-time receptionist at the Special Olympics. She holds dual membership in First Christian and Good Shepherd churches.

“I wasn’t expecting the award,” Fallis said. “I got a call from the president of the auxiliary requesting my presence at the installation of officers dinner on April 30. That’s where I got it.” Fallis is a member of Post 4075 through her dad who served in Vietnam.

In her younger days she competed in many Special Olympics events, Fallis said, including bowling, swimming, golf, basketball and softball.

“Now I talk to people and clubs and tell them about Special Olympics while getting them to help,” she said.

Fallis says she has three bulletin boards filled with awards she’s received in competitions across the years.

Her father, 71, says he — and, by birth, his daughter — are part Cherokee and participate in Native American events. They are planning to attend a pow-wow in Shepherdsville later this summer where Cherokees will be joined by representatives of tribes from across the country.

“Sun Spirit does what’s called the jingle dance,” he said. “She wears a dress covered with little brass dingles and joins others in the dance.”

And about her name?

“I had a very stressful job and I’d had a particularly hard day,” David said. “I was her bowling partner and we were going to bowling — and I was feeling lousy. In spite of the day I had, she had me laughing and I told her, ‘You are the best little friend I have. You are my little sun spirit.’ The name stuck.”

He says that for his daughter everyone she meets is “…just a friend she hasn’t talked to yet.”

Sun Spirit says she loves giving and it makes her “feel good.”

Her dad agreed. “She loves to give and loves to help people. She has a paid position with Special Olympics and works hard at that job. She lives on her own, too.”

Always looking to involve others, she says anyone who would like to assist with Special Olympics should contact the office located at 105 Lakeview Court, 502-695-8222. And, if you call between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. on weekdays, chances are your first conversation will be with Leigh Ann “Sun Spirit” Fallis.

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