WARSAW — Three local non-profit organizations – Joe’s Kids, The Baker Youth Club and Court Appointed Special Advocate of Kosciusko County (CASA) – will host “An Evening with Elizabeth Smart” at 6 p.m., April 23, at the Manahan Orthopaedic Capital Center, in Winona Lake.
The Kosciusko County Community Foundation and K21 Health Foundation are funding the event.
Tickets to the event are free and will be available to the public beginning Feb. 1 via links through the websites and social media channels of all three organizations (CASA, Joe’s Kids and BYC). Seating is limited and attendees will need a ticket for admittance.
The abduction of Smart was one of the most followed child abduction cases in memory. Smart was abducted on June 5, 2002, and her captors controlled her by threatening to kill her and her family if she tried to escape. Fortunately, the police safely returned her back to her family on March 12, 2003, after being held a prisoner for 9 months.
Through this traumatic experience, Smart has become an advocate for change related to child abduction, recovery programs and National legislation. Smart triumphantly testified before her captor and the world about the very private nightmare she suffered during her abduction, which led to a conviction.
The Founder of the “Elizabeth Smart Foundation,” Smart has also helped promote The National AMBER Alert, The Adam Walsh Child Protection & Safety Act and other safety legislation to help prevent abductions.
Smart has chronicled her experiences in the New York Times best-selling book, “My Story.” In addition, she and other abduction survivors worked with the Department of Justice to create a survivor’s guide, entitled, “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 but to know that there is hope for a rewarding life.
Smart has recently released a new book about what it takes to overcome trauma, find the strength to move on and reclaim one’s life. “Where There’s Hope” is the result of Elizabeth’s mission: It is both an up-close-and-personal glimpse into her healing process and a heartfelt how-to guide for readers to make peace with the past and embrace the future.
Smart attended Brigham Young University, studying music as a harp performance major. She married her husband Matthew in 2012, and they now have two children.
These three local organizations felt April was the right time to bring Elizabeth to Kosciusko County to coincide with Child Abuse Prevention Month. Children and family are key components to the mission of all three non-profit organizations joining forces to bring Smart to Kosciusko County. “We are excited to bring Smart here to offer a message of hope for any family or individual faced with challenges.” said Rebecca Bazonni, MS, PT, Executive Director of Joe’s Kids, Inc., “She is living proof that one can overcome the most unimaginable of circumstances!”
Overcoming adversity is a key theme in Smart’s message, which resonates with Mackenzie Cloutier, Executive Director of CASA of Kosciusko County. “Working with children caught in the court system, CASA hopes Elizabeth Smart’s message will inspire these youth to not be defined by their current situation but to keep believing things will get better.”
Tracy Furnivall, Executive Director of the Baker Youth Club believes BYC club members and their families will benefit from the event. “BYC is excited to partner with CASA and Joe’s Kids to bring what we believe will be an inspiring evening of hope to our community. BYC sees many families, that have or are going through a difficult time in their life. Elizabeth Smart’s story is truly inspiring and will provide anyone that attends, a positive light in whatever it is they may be going through.”
Smart will sign books after sharing her message. Elizabeth’s books will be available for purchase when tickets are reserved. Books may be picked up at the event.
About the sponsors:
Joe’s Kids is a 501(c)(3) non-profit pediatric rehab clinic providing occupational, physical and speech therapy services for children with special needs. Their mission is to help each child reach their full potential and to support and educate their parents along the way.
CASA of Kosciusko County is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that advocates for the best interest of abused and neglected children who are entangled in the Kosciusko County court system by recruiting, training and supporting volunteers to serve as Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA). CASA is central to fulfilling society’s most fundamental obligation by making sure a qualified compassionate adult will advocate for and protect a child’s right to be safe, to be treated with dignity and respect and to thrive and succeed in the security of a loving family.
Baker Youth Club (BYC) is an NFP 501(C3) organization. BYC’s focus is on education, health and social skill-building. BYC offers a “Before” and “After” school program and a nine-week summer program. BYC strives to provide a positive and impactful opportunity for the children in our community.
For more information, please contact CASA of Kosciusko County at 574-372-2401. Email: [email protected].