It was one of the most followed news stories of the decade. The 2002 abduction of 14-year-old Elizabeth Smart gripped the nation as she was held prisoner for nine months. Now, ten years later, Smart travels the country, telling her story as an advocate for abused and neglected children.
Next week the Children's Advocacy Center of the South Plains will be hosting a fundraiser and Smart will be speaking. Executive Director Carmen Aguirre says the center is thrilled to have her speak for them.
"She'll be talking a little bit about her story, but mostly inspiring people to overcome tragic things that have happened," Aguirre said.
Aguirre says Smart is constantly traveling to speak at events like this one and they are glad to have her as a voice for them.
"She's a big advocate and a fan of Children's Advocacy Centers and she just likes to empower people that it's important to protect children. I think that's her main goal," Aguirre said.
The Children's Advocacy Center of the South Plains interviews Children that have been sexually abused or may have witnessed crimes. Aguirre says, the problem is more prevalent than you may believe.
"This area is number one per capita in the state for confirmed cases of child abuse and neglect. So obviously there is a problem here," Aguirre said.
She believes it's everyone's business to sop abuse from happening.
"It's becoming more realized by the community that are we doing enough to protect children, that's our message," Aguirre said.
That is exactly the message the center wants to share next week, with the help of a woman who has experienced he trauma of abuse first hand.
Smart will speak at 6:45 next Monday at the Memorial Civic Center's Banquet Hall. Tickets are still available and can be purchased at selectaseatlubbock.com.
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