On June 5, 2002, fourteen-year-old Elizabeth Smart, the daughter of a close-knit Mormon family, was taken from her home in the middle of the night by religious fanatic, Brian David Mitchell and his wife, Wanda Barzee. She was kept chained, dressed in disguise, repeatedly raped, and told she and her family would be killed if she tried to escape. After her rescue on March 12, 2003, she rejoined her family and worked to pick up the pieces of her life.
In the years after her rescue, Smart transformed from victim to advocate, traveling the country and working to educate, inspire and foster change.
Elizabeth Smart, a national advocate for abducted children and recovery programs, will receive the Common Wealth Award of Distinguished Service during a ceremony April 16 in Wilmington, Delaware.
Smart will be honored along with actor and recording artist Mandy Patinkin and veteran political journalist Bob Schieffer as 2016 recipients of 37th annual Common Wealth Awards. The awards recognize individuals who have enriched modern culture through their professional and personal endeavors. . . .
Smart, founder of the Elizabeth Smart Foundation, was kidnapped from her home in Salt Lake City on June 5, 2002. She was found alive on March 12, 2003, in Sandy with her captors, Brian David Mitchell and Wanda Barzee. Her abduction, recovery and the prosecutions of Mitchell and Barzee were extensively reported worldwide.
Lead image from Deseret News.
Learn more about Elizabeth Smart's journey in her memoir, My Story: Elizabeth Smart.
In her memoir, My Story, Elizabeth Smart tells of the constant fear she endured every hour, her courageous determination to maintain hope, and how she devised a plan to manipulate her captors and convinced them to return to Utah, where she was rescued minutes after arriving. Smart explains how her faith helped her stay sane in the midst of a nightmare and how she found the strength to confront her captors at their trial and see that justice was served.