GREENWICH, Conn. – In 2002, 14-year-old Elizabeth Smart was brutally abducted from her Utah home. For nine months, she was held prisoner and stripped of her youthful innocence. Now 24, Smart is speaking out about what it feels like to be robbed of something that can never be returned and guiding others on overcoming extreme adversity.
As keynote speaker at the 2014 Fairfield County Women Against MS Luncheon Smart will share her story with Connecticut residents. The luncheon will be held Monday, May 12, at the Hyatt Regency Hotel, located in Old Greenwich.
Smart’s abduction in June 2002 was one of the most followed child abduction cases ever. Fortunately, after being held prisoner for nine months, the police safely returned Smart to her family on March 12, 2003.
Through the traumatic experience, Smart has become an advocate for change as it relates to child abduction, recovery programs and national legislation. Smart testified before her captor and the world about the very private nightmare she suffered during her abduction, which led to her perpetrators’ lifelong imprisonment.
Smart’s abduction and recovery continues to influence parents, law enforcement and leaders worldwide. Elizabeth, who is also a contributor for ABC News, is currently involved in the Elizabeth Smart Foundation and has helped promote the National AMBER Alert, the Adam Walsh Child Protection & Safety Act and other safety legislation to help prevent abductions.
Two years ago, in collaboration with four other young adults, Smart worked with the U.S. Department of Justice in creating a survivors guide, entitled, “You're Not Alone: The Journey From Abduction to Empowerment.” The guide is meant to encourage children who have gone through similar experiences to not give up and to know that there is life after tragic events.
“We are delighted to have Elizabeth at this year’s luncheon,” said Lisa Gerrol, President and CEO of the Connecticut Chapter. “Elizabeth’s message promises to be both compelling and inspiring.”
This year’s luncheon will honor New Haven resident Elizabeth Auld, who will receive the Michael E. Cummings Volunteer Award presented annually to an individual who illustrates a strong commitment to public service and unrelenting dedication to the fight against multiple sclerosis.
Guests are encouraged to invite co-workers, friends and family to the luncheon. Shopping begins at 10 a.m., with the lunch program starting at noon. Shopping will resume after the lunch program.
Last year, the Fairfield County luncheon attracted more than 190 guests. This year, the chapter hopes to attract 250 guests to raise $120,000. Funds raised through Connecticut Chapter events, such as WAMS luncheons, ensure ongoing scientific research to find better treatments and a cure. These funds also provide for the continuation of vital programs and services offered by the chapter.
Smart recently wrote a book titled, “My Story,” which details both her kidnapping and the formation of the Elizabeth Smart Foundation. Smart will be signing copies of her book, first released in October 2013, after the event.
Previous Women Against MS Luncheon keynote speakers include Teri Garr, Oscar-nominated television and film actress; Rain Pryor, actress and producer; Meredith Vieira, journalist, television personality, and game show host; Richard Cohen, author and journalist; Jacquelyn Mitchard, author; David Osmond, American Idol contestant and performer; Alan Osmond, performer; and Faith Middleton, author and Connecticut public radio host.
The Hyatt Regency Hotel is located at 1800 East Putnam Ave, in Old Greenwich. For more information on the 2014 Fairfield County Women Against MS Luncheon or to reserve a seat, please call 860.913.2550 or visit www.ctfightsMS.org.