Elizabeth Smart will speak here Friday as a child abduction advocate. Smart is the keynote speaker at Child Rescue Coalition’s fourth annual “Eat, Drink and Be Giving” gala at 6 p.m. Feb. 22 p.m. at the Delray Beach Marriott.
The Boca-based coalition designs technology provided free to law-enforcement to help law-enforcement rescue children and arrest predators.
Smart was14 when she was kidnapped from her Utah home in June 2002. A religious zealot and his wife were convicted of holding her captive until she was able to identify herself to police in March 2003. The case made national headlines.
Now married with two children, Smart shares how she was able to heal in “Where There’s Hope.”Here’s what she told Boca Voice via email.
Q: What’s your message for other children who are abused or abducted?
A: I have the same advice for all survivors, which is to find your family. Unfortunately, a lot of the abuse and kidnappings that occur come from the hands of those who are supposed to be there to protect you, love you and have your back at all times. Not all people who are genetically related to you deserve the title of a family member.
I would also want victims to know that even though what has happened will change their lives, it doesn’t have to define them.
No one can lessen your worth as an individual no matter what has happened. You deserve to be happy, you deserve love, and you are important!”
Q: What’s the message you want to get across for an audience like this one?
A: We all have trials in life that are going to feel impossible. But never give up. There is always hope! Especially when it comes to finding and rescuing children.
I know that statistically if you don’t find a child within the first 48 hours the chances of finding them alive is almost zero. But if that had been the mentality in my case, I would never have been found and I wouldn’t be here.
Q: Have you formed an alliance with this or any other nonprofits that deal with this issue?
A: One of my greatest inspirations are the organizations and individuals that have decided to take this darkest of battles on and give every day their time, effort, energy, and soul. It is not easy, and it does take a major toll. I will continue to stand in awe of each and everyone who dedicates pieces of their life to the safe return of children and ending child exploitation.
“Stories like Elizabeth’s need to be heard,” Carly Asher Yoost, founder and CEO of Child Rescue Coalition said in a statement. “Her strength, recovery and tireless advocacy for child sexual abuse prevention and safety is an inspiration to us all and a motivation to be even more vigilant.”
Tickets start at $275 per person and are available at the 501 auctions gala link or call 561-208-9000.