Wednesday, July 17, 2024

A father’s heartbreaking plea: Buckle up

A matter of life & death

Pat Goldhahn began his presentation with a warning – “I’m going to get emotional today.”

For the next hour and a half, about 500 teenagers sat in silence in the Columbus High School gym, listening to the story of Goldhahn’s 15-year-old daughter, Lauryn, who her father described as someone who was full of life and who “made everyone feel like she was their best friend, or they were hers.”

Tragically, Lauryn was killed in a rollover accident in August 2016 outside of her hometown of Fairfield.

Lauryn had been riding with an inexperienced driver, and failed to buckle her seatbelt that night. As the vehicle rolled, Lauryn was ejected about 50 yards and sustained serious injuries.

Despite being flown to a hospital in Seattle, Lauryn passed away two days later.

Goldhahn spared no details, showing a crash simulation and pictures of the truck. He used the song that was played at the hospital as Lauryn became an organ donor, and then listed all of the different people who had received her organs.

In the front of the gym were some meaningful items — Lauryn’s volleyball jersey, the shoes she was wearing during the accident, the box containing her ashes. Goldhahn held in his hands the exact buckle that, had Lauryn used it, could have saved her life.

The reality of how many people are touched by each person’s decisions was emphasized, with Goldsmith saying, “You don’t want to put your parents through this, you don’t want to go through this as a sibling, as a parent.”

He urged the students to wear their seatbelts, and also to consider the option of being what he likes to call an “organ gifter.”

Goldhahn told the crowd to “forgive often, and do great things,” saying that if Lauryn’s death can make this much of a difference, each and every person can as well.

Goldhahn tours the state to tell his daughter’s story. On Monday alone, he spoke to students from Rapelje, Reed Point, Absarokee, Columbus, and Joliet.

In addition to the presentations, the #buckleup4Lauryn campaign has reached all across the country.

Started by the Red Lodge volleyball team, blue ribbons to tie to steering wheels to remind people to buckle up have been requested by people in 48 states, Goldhahn said.

Ribbon purchase requests can be sent to Pat through a private Facebook message.

Currently residing in Fairfield, the Goldhahn family once resided in Stillwater County.