Elizabeth Smart talks about her kidnapping and the nonprofit that brought her to Birmingham


BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) – Elizabeth Smart was the keynote speaker, Thursday evening, at On River Time’s fundraising event, Casting Hope. On River Time is a nonprofit, dedicated to ministering to the child survivors of neglect and abuse.

“When you think about trying to reconcile and put bags down–your past? She’s probably the best person to talk to about that,” explained On River Time’s President, Steven Davis. “We were all glued to the television for so many months–watching what happened to her.”

Smart was kidnapped at knife-point from her home when she was 14 years-old. She was violently raped and abused for 9 months until her rescue. “I really felt like I was the only one who had been through this,” Smart explained, “and then years passed and I became more and more involved in advocacy. As I became more involved in advocacy, I became more involved in meeting other survivors.”

Smart said that she wants to show people that they can still find hope and help when dealing with trauma. “What ultimately defines us are the decisions that we make,” she said. “How we react. What we do next.”

Smart explained that On River Time approached her about speaking at Casting Hope, but she fully supports their mission. She said she didn’t go through traditional therapy after her rescue. “I mean, being around horses, music therapy, those were the things that really spoke to me,” said Smart.

On River Time works with places like Big Oak Ranch to select some of their kids to be part of summer camps in Idaho. While immersed in nature, the kids are taught to fly fish, they’re taken on park tours, and they give devotionals. Davis said it’s also about allowing them to be in their on thoughts on the water and in nature. On River Time has taken 110 kids to camps in the 7 years that they’ve been in operation. To learn more, visit their website here.

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