Celebrating Audrey: EMT and Teacher honored with Stark County Spirit of Excellence Award

Fifth-grade teacher and EMT Audrey Kuntz was surprised with the award for her dedication to serving the Richardton community as an EMT and creating the Safety Tuesday program for children.

Kuntz and Kaylor
Audrey Kuntz, left, speaks with Stark County Chief Deputy Ray Kaylor after receiving the Stark County Spirit of Excellence Award.
Ashley Koffler / The Dickinson Press
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RICHARDTON, N.D. — An emotional crowd filled Richardton City Hall on Thursday to surprise Audrey Kuntz. A fifth-grade teacher and EMT in Richardton, she was honored as the 10th recipient of the Stark County Spirit of Excellence Award for stewardship at a packed City Hall ceremony in a standing room only, full of family and community members who showed up to celebrate her.

“Audrey, I just want you to take a moment to look at this amazing crowd,” said Julie Obrigewitsch, who established the award. “Nobody had to come tonight. I didn't have to twist one person's arm. They chose to be here. They chose to come for you. And I think that's pretty special. So thank you all for coming.”

A fifth grade teacher at Heart River Elementary in Dickinson, Kuntz is also an EMT and created the Richardton-Taylor Ambulance’s Safety Tuesday program for children.

“This is overwhelming,” Kuntz said through tears after being presented with the award. “I love this town. I love everybody in it. I love my kids.”

Obrigewitsch said Kuntz was chosen out of a pool of 31 nominations. Many people spoke about good deeds and the overall good nature of Kuntz. Stark County Chief Deputy Ray Kaylor talked about a crash he and Kuntz had both responded to.


Audrey Kuntz
Audrey Kuntz was awarded a Stark County Spirit of Excellence Award during a ceremony in Richardton Jan. 19.
Ashley Koffler / The Dickinson Press

“The guy was pinned in the truck and we couldn't get him out so we were waiting for rescue to get there,” Kaylor said. “It's pouring down rain hard. She shows up in shorts. It was cold. I didn't have my jacket with me so I couldn't give her a jacket or anything. And she was holding this guy's hand talking to him. And I walked up to her and said 'hey why don't you go get in my truck and warm up a little bit.' She refused. She would not leave that guy. She kept holding his hand. Finally another deputy showed up that was smart enough to have a jacket. She gave Audrey her jacket.”

Teena McCoy spoke about why she nominated Kuntz.

“Audrey has dedicated a large portion of her time to becoming an EMT to serve the community that she loves,” McCoy said. “She also became a teacher while she was doing all of that, following her passion of teaching children.”

McCoy said she worked with Kuntz on the ambulance.

“While doing all these things, she also created the Richardton-Taylor Ambulance Safety Tuesday program that focuses on teaching children to be prepared and not scared,” McCoy said. “She has donated her time and resources making sure the program is not only informative, but also includes other agencies such as fire, law enforcement and the game warden and making sure that the kids know that these are people and agencies that they can trust. Audrey pours her soul into being there for her community and is a wonderful role model and steward to the town of Richardton and surrounding areas.”

From Left, Julie Obrigewitsch, Lindsey Kuntz and Audrey Kuntz prepare to cut the cake during a ceremony celebrating Audrey Kuntz.
Ashley Koffler / The Dickinson Press

Some of the children who have attended the program thanked her and letters of gratitude from her fifth grade students were also read during the ceremony. District Game Warden Zach Schuchard also spoke kindly of Kuntz.

“She has a commitment to giving the very best that she can,” Schuchard said. “There are a few qualities a person must possess to be an effective steward. Some of those are selfless service, inclusiveness, being a team player, and leading by example – qualities Audrey shows repeatedly through her dedication to the community.”

He added Kuntz is a “genuinely good person” with the “best neighborly wave” who helps communities thrive.


The mission of the spirit of excellence award is “To recognize the contributions of an individual or group who has demonstrated leadership, customer service, innovation, stewardship or good samaritan/random acts of kindness actions within Stark County, ND.” Deadlines for nominations are Feb. 15, May 15, Aug. 15 and Nov. 15.

“The nominations that are submitted are sent to me and then I then send them off to the mayors where they meet in a room quarterly to determine the recipient,” Obrigewitch said. “When they review the nominations I remove all the names they don't choose the recipient based off of a popularity contest. They don't choose the recipient based off of who that person is. They base that recipient, the winning recipient, off of the good deeds that were done.”

Kuntz was the 10th recipient of the award since it began in 2021, Obrigewitsch said.

“This is a lot,” Kuntz said. “So thank you guys so much. Thank you for your kind words.”

The mission of the Spirit of Excellence award is to recognize individuals or groups who have made significant contributions to their community, and nominations are accepted four times a year.

Audrey Kuntz family
From left: Lindsey, Hunter, Audrey and Kyle Kuntz.

Ashley Koffler is a Killdeer, North Dakota native and Dickinson State University graduate, with a Bachelor’s Degree in writing, and minors in journalism and psychology. Formerly working in Community Affairs for Roosevelt Custer Regional Council for Development, her reporting focuses on the Dickinson city government, community features, business and agriculture — among others.
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