Elizabeth Smart honored for ‘Legacy of Hope’

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Ten years have now passed since Elizabeth Smart was kidnapped from her bedroom and held hostage for months.

“I remember that morning, thinking of how much my life had changed, and wondering if I would ever get it back,” she said at an award gala on Saturday.

During the time since her rescue, Smart has been recognized across the country as a beacon of hope for those who have suffered life-altering trauma. She has traveled the country, inspiring others and receiving awards such as the prestigious Diller Von-Furstenberg award. Saturday she received the “Legacy of Hope” award from the Family Counseling Center of Murray. The award was provided through Tiffany and Co., and Smart was elated; it was a pretty special day for her already.

“What girl doesn’t like getting something from Tiffany’s on her birthday?” Smart said.

The Family Counseling Center is now in its centennial year and serves the mental health and substance abuse needs of low to no-income clients in Salt Lake County. The center helps more than  1,200 clients each year receive counseling services.

Kate Della-Piana, the center’s executive director, said Smart demonstrates hope for others every day. She described hope as “a desire for and expectation for a better world.”

“Her choice to transform adversity into victory inspires us,” Della-Piana said.

Smart has played an important role in moving sexual predator legislation forward, including her support of the AMBER alert system and the Adam Walsh Act. Though she has played an activist role, she said the award is humbling.

“I’m amazed so many people did so much for me and gave so much for me that now I’m standing here and receiving an award, I feel like it should be the other way around,” Smart said.

Musician and performer Kurt Bestor noted how her activism and legacy inspired him. He dedicated a few songs at the award gala, such as his popular song, “Prayer of the Children,” to her.

“I was not really aware of what the function was,” Bestor said, “but when someone said, ‘We’re paying tribute to Elizabeth Smart,’ I said ‘I’m in.’ ”

Bestor and Smart were practically neighbors growing up. He even wanted her to play the harp in one of his Christmas concerts.

Smart expressed surprising appreciation for what the kidnapping has done for her today.

“After everything is said and done, I certainly would not go out and say, ‘Please, kidnap me, that’s what I want!’,” Smart said, “But I am grateful for the experiences and the opportunities that it’s opened up to me that I wouldn’t have otherwise.”

Smart married Matthew Gilmour in February and is studying music as a harp performance major at BYU.