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Elizabeth Smart to speak at Boys & Girls Clubs gala

POSTED: October 27, 2013 10:45 p.m.

Elizabeth Smart, one of the most well-known survivors of child abduction, will speak Tuesday evening in Gainesville.

Smart will be the keynote speaker of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Hall County’s 11th annual Futures for Kids Gala at 5:30 p.m. at the Gainesville Civic Center.

Smart will tell how she was kidnapped from her home at age 14. Her captors controlled her by threatening to kill her family if she tried to escape. After being held prisoner for nine months, she escaped and was returned to her family.

Smart started the Elizabeth Smart Foundation to prevent crimes against children. She also wrote a book called “My Story” about her experience. Smart will sign copies of her book after the event.

Boys & Girls Clubs of Hall County Chief Volunteer Officer Greg Katulka said the organization is very excited to have Smart speak.

“She is a great example of how it is possible to overcome extreme adversity but not allowing your past to dictate your life’s future,” Katulka said. “This is the message that we impress upon the youth we serve. Many of these young people have come from difficult situations and face challenges and obstacles that most of us never have to consider.”

The event will also honor two Gainesville philanthropists, Walter and Winkie Boomershine, for years of support to the clubs with the Helping Hands Award.

“They truly have just huge hearts for kids,” said Joyce Wilson, vice president of development and marketing.

“They believe in the programs we’re doing here at the club. Walt in particular believes strongly that all youth need a good education and that the clubs are giving them a hand up, not a handout, and that by providing a good education and making sure that all our youth graduate from high school and have a plan for their future, we’re making sure all of these kids are going to have a good productive life and be good citizens.”

The event is the club’s biggest fundraiser of the year. More than 5,500 young people are served through the clubs, Eighty-seven percent of the children come from disadvantaged circumstances.

There are a limited number of tickets still available. Individual tickets are $150. For ticket information, call 770-532-8102.


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