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Gianforte Announces Spirit of Montana Recipients: Students and Faculty of Big Timber Grade School and Sweet Grass County High School

February 9, 2019
Press Release

Congressman Greg Gianforte recognized the students and faculty of Big Timber Grade School and Sweet Grass County High School with his Spirit of Montana commendation for encouraging and supporting a classmate battling cancer.

Students and faculty at the schools have rallied around Barrett Artukovich, a 7-year-old, second-grade student from Big Timber who was recently diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma. They have shown solidarity with Barrett and provided him and his family with an outpouring of support.

Gianforte’s Spirit of Montana is a weekly recognition of Montanans for their accomplishments, dedication, or service. Gianforte highlights the recipient in the U.S. House of Representatives and personally contacts the honorees.

Gianforte encourages anyone to nominate Montanans for the Spirit of Montana award by contacting his office at 202-225-3211 or by e-mail at https://gianforte.house.gov/contact/email.

Gianforte’s statement in the Congressional Record follows:

RECOGNIZING STUDENTS AND FACULTY OF BIG TIMBER GRADE SCHOOL AND SWEET GRASS COUNTY HIGH SCHOOL

Madam Speaker, I rise today to honor the students and faculty of Big Timber Grade School and Sweet Grass County High School for supporting and encouraging Barrett Artukovich, a 7-year-old, second-grade student from Big Timber who is battling cancer.

In early December 2018, Barrett was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma, a form of cancer that can advance quickly throughout the body and weaken the immune system. Barrett is undergoing a unique, personalized, two-year treatment plan in Colorado where he and his parents, Bill and Heather Artukovich, will travel frequently for clinical visits.

The Big Timber community has rallied around the family, offering generous support.

Because of the treatment, Barrett’s head is shaved, and he wears a hat. The boys in Barrett’s class shaved their heads in support of their friend. Big Timber Grade School and Sweet Grass County High School recently observed “Wear a Hat for Barrett Day” with students wearing hats in school with a one-dollar donation to support a fund for the Artukovichs.

The schools kicked off “Barrett’s Penny War,” a competition among each grade level to see which grade raises the most money through the end of February.

The high school boys basketball team named Barrett its honorary captain for the season. With his parents taking precautions, Barrett attended the emotional game where the team presented him with an autographed basketball and team picture.

With the help of a grant, Barrett participates virtually in the classroom using a telepresence robot. The device provides a two-way audio/video connection which allows Barrett to interact with his teacher and classmates from home.

Barrett’s uncle set up an online campaign to help with travel, accommodations, and other expenses. The initial goal of $20,000 was met within a day, according to Bill Artukovich.

Madam Speaker, for their encouragement and support of a classmate battling cancer and his family, I recognize the students and faculty of Big Timber Grade School and Sweet Grass County High School for their spirit of Montana.