The Beartooth Billings Clinic Karas Award, presented annually, is named in honor of the late Dr. Benjamin Karas, a beloved physician who for many years showed his dedication, care and compassion to the Red Lodge and surrounding communities through his service. This award seeks to honor those who exemplify the spirit of selflessly serving our community by sharing their time, energy and talents to help others. The motto of the award is simple: "Service is an attitude that is the lifeblood of any organization. Everything flows from it and is nourished by it.”
The #BuckleUpBlue4Lauryn campaign resulted from a tragic accident in Fairfield, Montana, that claimed the life of 15 year old Lauryn Goldhahn in August of 2016. Lauryn was riding as a passenger in a friend's vehicle that lost control and slammed into a power pole. Lauryn, who was not wearing a seatbelt, was ejected from the vehicle and did not survive her injuries. At the time of the accident, Lauryn was a member of the Fairfield High School volleyball team that was preparing to play the Red Lodge High School team in a pre-season tournament. The Red Lodge team and their coach, Darcy Stracke, came up with a plan to honor Lauryn. They would hand out blue ribbons to their opponents before matches in hopes the ribbons would be tied to steering wheels to remind drivers and passengers to buckle up. The blue color was chosen because it was Fairfield High School's school color as well as Lauryn's favorite color. Beginning with the Fairfield game, the Red Lodge team handed out ribbons at each volleyball game throughout the season. Lauryn's family adopted the idea and sent out tens of thousands of these ribbons to schools, businesses, individuals and highway patrol officers throughout Montana and the rest of the country; in fact just about all of the 50 states. The idea caught on and there have been many indications that this idea has helped save lives. News media have widely reported on Lauryn's story and the campaign. Lauryn's family has received many letters, messages and photos from people around the country whom this campaign has touched, thanking them for these efforts, the inspiration and the real results it has provided.
The mission of Beartooth Billings Clinic is "to save lives and promote healthy living". This innovative and compassionate idea created by Coach Stracke and her team embodies the spirit of what Beartooth Billings Clinic and the Karas Award are all about.