By Jan Boston Sellers
I saw Elizabeth Smart interviewed earlier this week and I was amazed at the young girl’s resilience, attitude, outlook, candor and faith. She was only 14 when taken at gunpoint from her Federal Heights, Salt Lake City, UT, bedroom in June of 2002. She was found alive on March 12, 2003, after being held captive for nine months by a man and his wife known as Brian David Mitchell and Wanda Barzee. She was forced to endure unspeakable crimes against her before being freed by police months later.
Smart, who is now 20 years old and recently married, is on a press tour for her book My Story. She has written a firsthand account of her abduction and subsequent imprisonment in conjunction with establishing the Elizabeth Smart Foundation.
I followed the stories during the months she was missing and rejoiced when she was found in Salt City almost a year later. Her male abductor, it turns out, was someone her parents had tried to help by offering odd jobs. A man they knew as “Emmanuel.”
Kudos should be given to not only Smart, but her family and her therapeutic team, who have obviously built on her resilience and provided the help and support she needed to acclimate herself back in to society as a wholesome, articulate survivor of a harrowing ordeal. Smart credits her family, therapy, her music (she is a harpist), horseback riding and her faith as the many different forms of therapy she utilized to get herself as emotionally sound as possible.
She says she built up her emotional strength upon a statement her mother made to her shortly after her release when she said, “Elizabeth, he has stolen nine months from you. Don’t let him steal another second.”
If what she says and how she handles herself in an interview is indicative of how she is facing everyday life, I would say she has taken what her mother and others have told her and internalized it magnificently. I would certainly add her to my list of most admired people.
Cumberland County High School’s Class of 2014 has released the list of senior superlatives. Tyler Norris has garnered the Mr. CCHS nod, with Balie Houston receiving the honor of Miss CCHS. Most Likely to Succeed goes to Jay Patel and Tana McDonald; Most Athletic to Zakk King and Jennifer Hedgecoth; Most Talented to Daulton McCartney and Chelsey Long; and Most Individual to Dune Bennett and Dezi Conatser. The Wittiest awards were earned by Nick Ford and Ivy Luttrell; Logan Johnson and Josie Graham were voted Best Dressed; Jeremy Miller and Meghan Server were named Best All Around; Tyler Hoskins and Leah Stephens as Most School Spirited; and Ryan Patterson and Christine Jones were named Most Outgoing. Congratulations to all of these superlative winners!
These senior superlative students and all other Cumberland County School students will be celebrating come 2:45 Friday afternoon. The county’s schools will dismiss Friday afternoon for a week-long fall break. Students will return to the classroom Monday, Oct. 21.
Both high schools will be in football action Friday night. Cumberland County High School will head to Sweetwater to face the Wildcats and the Stone Memorial High School Panthers are looking for a win over Sequatchie County after a big win over Warren County in overtime last Friday.
My University of Tennessee Vols are off this weekend after a near win over number six ranked Georgia Saturday in Neyland Stadium. The Vols will resume play the following Saturday at Neyland. They will host South Carolina in SEC action.
A benefit motorcycle ride for the United Fund is slated for Saturday starting at 10 a.m. at Tommy’s Motorsports on 550 Crabtree Rd., Crossville. Registration will begin at 9 a.m. The ride will start at 10 a.m. If you want to register, please call 456-0900. All proceeds will benefit the United Fund of Cumberland County and its 37 partner agencies.