Lunch With Elizabeth Smart
262,000: The number of children that vanish every year. Most of those stories do not have a happy ending.
281: The number of days Elizabeth Smart was missing. She is bringing her famous story of hope and redemption to the Rocket City next week.
At the start of summer in 2002, Smart was taken in the middle of the night from her family’s home in Utah. A man came into the 14-year-old’s room, held a knife to her neck and took her. Several months passed before her 9-year-old sister Mary Katherine – who was present in the bedroom during the abduction – had a breakthrough memory about the kidnapper.
Mary Katherine suddenly recognized the voice of her sister’s abductor, telling her parents, “I think I know who it is: Emmanuel.” A man calling himself Emmanuel had done repair work at the Smart’s home more than a year before. Most people, including the investigating police, discounted Mary Katherine’s recollection as wishful thinking.
The family, however, pursued the lead. They hired a sketch artist to render a drawing of Emmanuel, which was then shown on America’s Most Wanted. In a miraculous turn of events, a citizen who had seen the portrait on television the night before, recognized the abductor and alerted police. Elizabeth Smart – disguised in a gray wig, sunglasses, and veil – was found in the company of ‘Emmanuel’ whose real name is Brian David Mitchell.
It’s been nearly 10 years since Smart was reunited with her family. In that time she has married, founded a nonprofit – the Elizabeth Smart Foundation – which aims to prevent crimes from happening to children, and leads a relatively normal life.
Recently, in an interview with Time magazine, Smart said about her foundation and advocacy work, “The majority of those [kids] who fight back are able to get away — but I didn’t know that. The only thing I was told by my school was, ‘Don’t get in a car with a stranger,’ and that didn’t really apply to what happens when someone breaks into your home and has a knife at your neck.” She concluded, “We’re preparing children for the wrong thing.”
What is the right thing to prepare children for? To answer that question the National Children’s Advocacy Center (NCAC) and Healthy Woman Program of Crestwood Medical Center decided to bring Smart here to speak at a lunch engagement on Thursday, June 28.
Smart says the lessons she now advocates through radKIDS might have helped her. “In the moment I was kidnapped I didn’t think I had a choice — I thought either I go with this man, or I will be killed,” she says. “Had I been trained with radKIDS, I would have known that I had more than just the choice of being killed in my bed or going with him.”
Elizabeth Comes to NCAC
It is a natural fit for the NCAC, a group that set the bar for child abuse response and prevention. The agency is a feather in the cap of Huntsville Alabama, and each year thousands of people from across the globe are trained here on recognizing and supporting endangered children. Initiated in 1985 by Former Congressman Bud Cramer, now more than 50,000 child abuse professionals from all 50 states and 20 countries have been trained by the NCAC.
Catherine Hereford, development director at the National Children’s Advocacy Center said, “The NCAC is honored to have been chosen as a beneficiary of this marvelous event. We have been fortunate to work with Crestwood on many occasions and we are so grateful for all they continue to do to support the work of the NCAC and the children we serve.”
Hereford also revealed that Smart will tour the NCAC facilities prior to her speaking engagement.
Proceeds from the luncheon will support the National Children’s Advocacy Center and Kids to Love. Follow live commentary of the event on Twitter at #SmartLunch. Tickets are $50 and can be purchased by contacting Abby Guasti by email: email@example.com or telephone: 256-429-4072.
What: Lunch With Elizabeth Smart
Date: Thursday, June 28
Time: 11:30 a.m.
Venue: The Jackson Center