Local girl wins National Right To Life essay contest

Courtesy photo

Karina Novotny, 13, poses earlier this year with her mom Kristin, dad Jacob and youngest brother Grayson after winning the Miss Fall River Balloon Festival Outstanding Teen title. Her platform for the upcoming Miss South Dakota Outstanding Teen is pro-life adoption advocacy.


By Brett Nachtigall


HOT SPRINGS – When asked “Why are you pro-life?” as part of an essay contest sponsored by the National Right To Life organization, 13-year-old Karina Novotny of Hot Springs had a very quick and simple answer...

Her younger, adopted brother Grayson.

That answer, and the essay she wrote about Grayson and her family’s experience in adopting him, recently earned Novotny first place in the Junior Division of the nationally-judged essay contest, which included a $200 cash prize. 

Novotny, who is a seventh-grader in Hot Springs Middle School, said she first learned about the essay contest through St. Anthony’s Catholic Church in Hot Springs, where she is a member. The national contest also featured a Senior Division for Grades 10-12. The Junior Division, which Novotny won, was for Grades 7-9, meaning she was one of the youngest participants in the contest.

She and her family – which include parents Jake and Kristin, older brother Weston (15) and another younger brother Braxton (11) – moved to Hot Springs from Belle Fourche about 2 ½ years ago. Their family grew about a year later when they were able to adopt a newborn baby, Grayson, from a family friend who had become pregnant, but wasn’t ready to take on the responsibilities of being a mother.

Participating in the Right To Life Essay contest was one way, Karina said, she could not only talk about her pro-life beliefs, but her passion for protecting the unborn from abortions and instead choosing adoption goes much deeper than writing an essay.

As a contestant in Miss South Dakota’s Outstanding Teen competition – and the current titleholder of Miss Fall River Hot Air Balloon Festival Outstanding Teen – Novotny has made adoption her platform. Through the promotion of her platform, Novotny last year began a fundraiser where she sold tomatoes from her family’s garden which went to help fund a $1,000 grant through the Fall River Right To Life to assist a future local family adopt a child.

This effort through her Miss Outstanding Teen platform earned the Community Service Award as part of the competition this winter, and ultimately helped earn her the title which will send her to Brookings in May to compete for Miss South Dakota’s Outstanding Teen.

In addition to writing and competing for pageant titles, Karina also takes dance classes at The Dance Studio in downtown Hot Springs, which will be hosting a recital in May. She is also active in community theatre and has been a part of some past performances of the Southern Hills Community Theatre.


Why am I pro-life? Grayson! My pro-life beliefs intensified two years ago when a family friend became pregnant before she was prepared to be a parent. Our family felt called to pursue adoption and encourage the birth family to choose life. Experiencing the love for this unborn baby and his birth family led me to become involved with the local right to life group, sparking my desire to protect the unborn.

My family prayed for the option of adoption. Our prayers were answered on Good Friday 2018, when we received a phone call from Grayson’s birth mother saying she planned to make an open adoption plan for her baby knowing she could give him a chance at a good life with us. I got the most blessed birthday present ever when Grayson was born 3 days before my 12th birthday. 

My parents encouraged me to learn about adoption, abortion, and human life. I watched the movie “Allison’s Choice” which depicted God’s presence and love for expectant mothers and their unborn children even in an abortion facility. I attended a showing of “Unplanned” which showed me the sickening truth of abortion and the magnitude of the issue facing our country. “Unplanned” also showed me how one person can speak out and save lives through compassionate education & love.

I was immediately filled with a desire to help families (birth and adoptive) experience the joy of adoption. I believe helping more families pursue adoption will decrease the number of abortions and potentially connect birth mothers to a positive encouraging adoptive family permanently. Through a tomato fundraiser from my garden I was able to create a grant valued at over $200 to help the next local family pursue adoption. This fundraiser helped me communicate my pro-life beliefs to my family, friends, teachers, community, and state as I marketed my tomato fundraiser.

It was an honor to be invited to speak at the 2019 South Dakota State Right to Life convention about my family’s adoption experience, my pro-life beliefs, and present my grant to the local Hot Springs Right to Life chapter. Earlier this month I won a local pageant title promoting a pro-life adoption advocacy platform. In May 2020, I advance to the Miss South Dakota Outstanding Teen pageant where I will be able to promote my adoption advocacy platform to a large crowd of diverse people from across my state. 

My pro-life journey has taught me that one birth mother’s selfless choice to give her baby a good life can spread love throughout a whole state and beyond! Grayson is a unique little boy who has filled our home with laughter and inspired me to do everything I can to help others to choose life. I am committed to sharing the lessons I have learned about protecting the unborn and honoring my baby brother through my efforts to help birth and adoptive families.


Fall River County Herald Star

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