Youth Eastside Services to host Elizabeth Smart

November 10, 2011

By Warren Kagarise

NEW — 6 p.m. Nov. 10, 2011

Elizabeth Smart is due to deliver the keynote address at a benefit for Youth Eastside Services, a nonprofit organization serving children in Issaquah and other communities.

Elizabeth Smart

Smart — abducted at knifepoint from home in Utah in June 2002 — plans to share the story of overcoming imprisonment and succeeding despite adversity.

Youth Eastside Services selected Smart, 24, to headline the Invest in Youth Breakfast in March.

“We’re extremely honored to present Ms. Smart in her first major speech in the Northwest,” Patti Skelton-McGougan, Youth Eastside Services executive director, said in a statement. “The spirit with which she publicly acknowledges the private nightmare she suffered at 14 is admirable, and her message of not allowing one’s past to dictate the future is inspirational.”

The annual fundraiser for Youth Eastside Services is scheduled for the Meydenbauer Center in Bellevue.

Smart, a music student at Brigham Young University, is a prominent advocate for child abduction prevention and recovery programs, as well as a correspondent for ABC News on abduction issues. Smart also founded the Elizabeth Smart Foundation to stop predatory crimes.

“Although Elizabeth’s abduction was an exceptional experience, her powerful story of recovery from trauma helps us understand the benefits that result from investing in youth to bolster their resilience for whatever challenges come their way and to help them recover from trauma,” Skelton-McGougan said.

Investigators rescued Smart and arrested her captors, Brian David Mitchell and Wanda Ileen Barzee, in March 2003. Mitchell is serving a life sentence in federal prison for the incident; Barzee is also incarcerated in a federal facility.

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