Chiild advocates Ed and Elizabeth Smart on Friday recounted the events of a day that shattered their lives: June 5, 2002.
On that day, Elizabeth, 14, was kidnapped from her home in Salt Lake City, Utah, by Brian Mitchell, beginning an ordeal that lasted nine months. The Smarts' story received widespread media attention, including a book and a made-for-TV movie.
Ed Smart, Elizabeth's father and president of the Surviving Parents Coailtion, recalled when Elizabeth's sister told him the news, "Dad, someone's taken Elizabeth." Remembering that time, he said, "the worst part of the whole thing is the not knowing," especially whether his daughter was alive or dead.
He noted the power of thousands praying for his daughter. "Elizabeth is alive today because of those prayers."
The Smarts appeared at , first at a VIP luncheon and then at an Upper School assembly, in support of a program called RadKids that teaches children techniques to avoid kidnapping, child abuse and other violence, including bullying. The program in Georgia is supported by the organization Keep Ga. Safe.
Program advocates said RadKids teaches kids that they and others are special and that no one has the right to hurt them. It also gives them physical techniques to stop adults from causing them harm, and shows them how to rationally plan to escape from dangerous situations.
The program gives kids strong sense of self, Ed Smart said. "'It teaches them; it empowers them. RadKIDS gives them a fighting chance." Pace will install the program, and the Smarts want other schools to offer it.
Elizabeth, now a senior at Brigham Young University and the president of the Elizabeth Smart Foundation, said she couldn't say whether the program would have allowed her to prevent the kidnapping, but she thinks it would have given her more "options" then her initial belief that she had two choices: to go with her kidnapper and possibily live or "resist and die, and have my family killed."