RANCHO MIRAGE — Elizabeth Smart, who has gone from an abducted 14-year-old that suffered unspeakable abuse to wife, mother and nationally recognized leader and advocate for issues related to child abuse will headline the 2019 Champion Honors Luncheon.
Smart will conduct an on-stage conversation with NBC West Coast Today Show Anchor and Host of Access Hollywood, Natalie Morales. The Champion Honors Luncheon benefits the Barbara Sinatra Children’s Center Foundation and the Barbara Sinatra Children’s Center.
The luncheon will be held at the Marriott Desert Springs Resort, in Palm Desert on Jan. 22, at 11:30 am.
“I am extremely honored to have been selected as the Champion Honoree at the Barbara Sinatra Center’s Annual Champion Honors Luncheon,” Smart said in a prepared statement. “The Barbara Sinatra Center has impacted the lives of so many children and I am thrilled to be a part of this event to support the continued growth and efforts of this incredible organization.”
Elizabeth Smart follows last year’s honoree, Simone Biles who rose from neglect and abuse as a child to become an Olympic Gold Medal Champion. Biles also suffered sexual abuse at the hands of USA Gymnastics physician Larry Nassar.
Event Co-Chair and Children’s Center Trustee, Hal Gershowitz added, “We are delighted Elizabeth is coming to share an up-close and personal glimpse into her story, the healing process and her emergence as a nationally recognized leader and advocate for issues related to child abuse.”
Smart co-authored with Chris Stewart, My Story, a memoir that details both her kidnapping and the formation of the Elizabeth Smart Foundation. In 2017, on the 15th anniversary of her abduction, Lifetime aired the made-for-TV film titled I Am Elizabeth Smart, narrated and produced by Smart.
John Thoresen, Executive Officer of the Barbara Sinatra Children’s Center said luncheon tickets to see and hear the 31 year-old Smart will go quickly. “The efforts by Elizabeth to protect children from abuse is noteworthy and complements the mission of the Children’s Center”, Thoresen said. “Natalie Morales has previously interviewed both Elizabeth and her parents, so we can expect a most enjoyable and revealing conversation.”
In 2014 Smart testified before the Utah House of Representatives in favor of a bill that would create an optional curriculum for use in Utah schools to provide training on child sexual abuse prevention. The Barbara Sinatra Children’s Center Foundation’s international outreach program of animated videos, “The Protect Yourself Rules Program” is being used by a number of schools in Utah and throughout the US and the world to help protect children from abuse.
People wishing tables of 10 or individual tickets are encouraged to contact the Children’s Center at 760-773-1636 for more information.
Founded in 1986 by Barbara and Frank Sinatra, the mission of the Barbara Sinatra Children’s Center is to counsel children suffering the effects of abuse, and to focus on prevention, community education and breaking the cycle of generational abuse. No child is ever turned away due to a family’s ability to pay. Since 1986 over 22,000 children have been served. The Children’s Center is located on the campus of the Eisenhower Medical Center in Rancho Mirage, California. www.barbarasinatrachildrenscenter.org.