Elizabeth Smart, survivor of one of the most publicized child abductions in U.S. history, and now advocate for change related to child abduction, recovery programs and national legislation, will be speaking at the University of Findlay’s Alumni Memorial Union’s Multipurpose Room on Friday, Oct. 13 at 3 p.m. Her speech, titled “Overcoming Adversity: The Elizabeth Smart Story,” will be free and open to the public.
At age 14, Smart was abducted from her home in Salt Lake City, Utah, on June 5, 2002. Her captors, who threatened to kill her and her family if she tried to escape, held her prisoner for nine grueling months. Fortunately, the police safely returned her to her family on March 12, 2003.
Smart triumphantly testified before her captor and the world about the very private nightmare she suffered during her abduction, which led to conviction.
As the founder of the Elizabeth Smart Foundation, Smart has also helped promote the national AMBER Alert, the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act and other safety legislation to help prevent abductions.
Smart chronicled her experiences in The New York Times bestseller, “My Story.” In addition, she and other abduction survivors worked with the U.S. Department of Justice to create a survivors’ guide titled “You’re Not Alone: The Journey from Abduction to Empowerment.” This guide is meant to encourage children who have gone through similar experiences not to give up, and to know that there is hope for a rewarding life.
Smart’s abduction and recovery continue to motivate parents, law enforcement and leaders worldwide to focus on children’s safety. She emphasizes vigilance by “every day” people and the belief that hope always exists to find every missing child.
Smart went on to attend Brigham Young University to study music as a harp performance major, and married her husband, Matthew, in 2012. Her example is a daily demonstration that there really is life after a tragic event.
Smart’s Oct. 13 public appearance will precede her talk at a private fundraiser for the Center for Safe and Healthy Children, to be held at UF’s Mazza Museum that evening.