by Jordyn Price
Elizabeth Smart, the young Utah woman whose 2002 abduction gripped the nation for nine months before her ultimate rescue, is in Boise today, serving as keynote speaker for the 13th annual Smart Women, Smart Money Financial Conference at the Boise Centre on the Grove. Now 24, Smart said she has managed to turn her story of horror into a platform for inspiration and hope. As conference host Idaho State Treasurer Ron Crane explained, she has "made lemonade out of lemons."
Prior to her late afternoon address, Smart sat calm and strong, the only hint of her tragic past being the news stories that have become synonymous with her name. When asked about the subject of her speech, Smart responded humbly, stating that "98 percent of women (at the conference) could stand up on stage and tell their story, because we all have a story."
Smart said she has taken every opportunity to use her story of abduction and rape at age 14 to inspire hope for the future. Acknowledging her past and explaining the decisions that saved her life, she firmly proclaimed, "I did come back. I was given a second chance at life."
In addition to her public speaking, Smart works with her father on the Elizabeth Smart Foundation, as well as the not-for-profit foundation radKIDS. While many may question Smart's ability to embrace life with such a positive outlook, it is obvious that, for her, hope and faith are the only way she can live. When asked about her unfathomable amount of courage, Smart referenced one of her favorite lines from The Hunger Games, stating that "The only thing greater than fear, is hope." Infinitely fearless and poised, Elizabeth Smart continues to be a story of inspiration.