FLORENCE — Early in the 2000s, a child-abduction case gripped the nation as Elizabeth Smart was held by her captors for nine months.
Today, Smart has become an advocate for issues involving child abduction, recovery programs and legislation.
Shoals residents have the opportunity to hear her story on March 19, 2020, at the Shoals Chamber of Commerce 33rd annual celebration.
The event includes a 5 p.m. reception and 6 p.m. dinner program at the Marriott Shoals Conference Center.
Tickets and sponsorships are available at the chamber website. A sponsorship includes a VIP meet and greet that includes a photo opportunity with Smart. There are additional sponsorship options, including seating at the head table with Smart.
“The Shoals Chamber team is thrilled to have Elizabeth Smart as our keynote speaker for our 33rd Annual Celebration," chamber President Caitlin Holland said. "She is the epitome of hope and courage in the face of evil. We are sure to be inspired by her spirit, but also her determination to affect change for other children facing insurmountable odds."
The event also includes the announcement of the chamber's Citizen of the Year Award.
Smart was 14 when she was abducted on June 5, 2002, according to her biography accompanying the chamber's announcement. Her captors told her they would kill her and her family if she tried to escape.
She was rescued by police on March 12, 2003.
"Through this traumatic experience Smart has become an advocate for change related to child abduction, recovery programs and national legislation," the announcement states. "Elizabeth triumphantly testified before her captor and the world about the very private nightmare she suffered during her abduction, which lead to conviction."
She went on to create the Elizabeth Smart Foundation and assists in promoting the national AMBER Alert, the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act, and additional legislation designed to prevent abductions, according to the announcement.
She is the author of The New York Times best-seller "My Story" and she worked with the U.S. Department of Justice on a survivor's guide called "You're Not Alone: The Journey From Abduction to Empowerment."
Her biographical information states she went on to attend Brigham Young University, where she studied music as a harp performance major. She married in 2012.
Chamber officials said her keynote address is titled "Overcoming Adversity: The Elizabeth Smart Story."