Elizabeth Smart, who survived one of the most highly publicized child kidnapping cases in history, spoke Thursday at the YWCA’s Empowering Women Luncheon, a major fundraiser for the YWCA that helps support programs and services for women and girls who are dealing with personal crises, such as homelessness and teen pregnancy. The event took place at the Joseph A. Floreano Rochester Riverside Convention Center in Rochester, New York.
“So many people searched for me, so many people prayed for me and followed by story and I am so grateful [for] that,” Smart said, according to Time Warner Cable News. “It’s made such a huge difference knowing there are so many people who cared for me and loved me and wanted my safe return, not only my safe return but they wanted to see me happy again and they wanted to see me move forward in my life so that’s been such a huge blessing.”
Smart was 14 when she was taken from her bed in 2002 in her family’s Salt Lake City home. She was held captive for nine months by a couple that threatened to kill her and her family if she escaped. Police returned Elizabeth safely to her family in 2003.
Smart says in her book that she was able to persevere by thinking of her mother and father and their unconditional love for her. “[My mother] would always love me and I would always be her daughter and there’s just nothing that could ever change that.”
Smart, now 26, said at the Luncheon that no matter how bad things get today, being alive is wonderful.
“For as much evil and wickedness and bad things you see on the news all the time, there are that many good people out there and there are that many more people who want to make a difference and who want to see you happy and who want to help, so never give up,” Smart said.