Local teen reads her winning Right To Life essay to legislators in Pierre

Submitted photo

Hot Springs High School sophomore Karina Novotny poses for a photo with Dale Bartscher, President of South Dakota Right to Life, inside the South Dakota State Capitol during an event known as the Hour of Reflection on Sunday, Jan. 29. 


By Brett Nachtigall


HOT SPRINGS – In 2020, then-13-year-old Karina Novotny of Hot Springs won the junior division of the National Right To Life Essay Contest when she wrote about her family’s experience adopting her younger brother Grayson.

Now, three years later, Novotny has once again earned recognition for her writing after winning the senior division of the South Dakota Right To Life Essay Contest with her essay entitled “How One Beautiful Heartbeat Changed My Life.” Her winning essay is now entered into the national contest where she will once again get a chance to receive nationwide honors, but in the older division for youth in Grades 10-12.

This past Sunday, Jan. 29, Novotny read her statewide winning essay – which describes her journey of becoming a pro-life advocate – to several hundred people inside the South Dakota State Capitol rotunda during an event known as the Hour of Reflection. Afterwards, Novotny said it was an honor to be invited to the event where she had the opportunity to talk about the gifts of adoption and life.

“It was so moving to receive a standing ovation after reading my essay,” she said. “Many people approached to offer congratulations and encouragement towards my future goals. I look forward to returning to Pierre in a few weeks to serve as a legislative page.”

Novotny, age 16 and a sophomore at Hot Springs High School, is active in many local organizations and was last year named Hot Springs’ 2022 Joyce Farrell Youth Volunteer of the Year. She is also the current Miss State Fair’s Outstanding Teen, and in her free time enjoys drag racing her Firebird, competing in cross country and gymnastics.

Her parents are Jacob and Kristi Novotny and she has four brothers, including one in college, one in 8th grade, along with two other younger brothers, aged 4 and 1, who are both adopted, and whom she says, “I  love with my whole heart.”

“I wrote this essay hoping to spread the message that Adoption is a process that can lead to immeasurable blessings and I hope that I can impact at least at least one person by this because you never know how this view can dramatically change ones future,” Novotny said.

Following is her 2023 winning essay, which she will also be reading at the Hot Springs Area Right To Life’s showing of the movie Lifemark at the Mueller Civic Center on Feb. 11, beginning at 3 p.m.

How One Beautiful Heartbeat Changed My Life

Everyone has their reason. The reason for the job they have, the family they have, the hobbies they have. Everyone gets to their destination for a reason whether you understand why, or not. I have found my reason—because my family said “YES” to life five years ago.

On Good Friday of 2018, my family received a message asking, “Do you still want to adopt?” Since then, my little brother Grayson has brought joy, gratitude, and one more beautiful heartbeat into this world. I have seen my family’s priorities switch from self-centered plans to living to serve others. I witnessed my grandparents joyously watching Grayson grow to take his first steps, say his first words, and go to his first day of school. He was never anything less than a unique child of God full of purpose and promise. Grayson has shown our community the blessing that adoption brings, and now I have another extension of support and love from Grayson’s amazing birth family. 

Through Grayson, God showed me the reason behind where I am today. Witnessing how this one baby transformed my whole family, and hearing of the approximate 73 million abortions annually (World Health Organization), I realized my calling to become a pro-life advocate. Knowing it was time to take a stand, I raised money by selling tomatoes to provide an adoption grant for another family. By volunteering at fairs, conventions, and youth groups I gained confidence in my ability to educate others about fetal development, the gifts of life, and adoption. I plan to pursue a degree in political science focused on the goal of Adoption Law, with hopes of seeking an elected position to help our country protect the sanctity of human life. Experiencing the impact one individual has had on my life, I find joy knowing I have also impacted individuals through educating my generation about life.

If you told the little girl writing out her birthday wishlist five years ago she would become a pro-life advocate, she probably would’ve said “you’re crazy.” At that time, she simply wanted to be a princess. However, if you told the little boy in the womb he doesn’t get a chance at life, I wouldn’t have my reason to be here speaking out for innocent life or my reason for where I am going tomorrow. Grayson is changing hearts in this world, and since his birth we have adopted another baby whose birth-mom made the selfless choice for life. God is working through the lives of pro-life activists to save our pre-born sons and daughters. Proverbs 31:8 proclaims, “Speak up for those who can not speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute” (NIV Bible).  Thankful to know my reason, I now live unapologetically fighting to protect every life from conception until natural death.

Fall River County Herald Star

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