Most Viewed Stories
Smart talks adversity at Healthy Woman event
BCH program celebrates 7th Anniversary
BARSTOW • More than 450 people turned out Friday evening to hear abduction survivor Elizabeth Smart speak during the Seventh Anniversary Celebration of Healthy Woman, a program of Barstow Community Hospital.
The program is intended to empower women and their families to make informed health care decisions, according to its website.
Smart’s story caught the attention of national media in 2002 when the Utah native was kidnapped and rescued nine months later. Since then, she’s become an advocate of various programs and legislation to help prevent child abductions.
There were 456 tickets sold for the event, according to Healthy Woman Advisory Committee member Hannah Ellis.
Smart spoke to a packed audience inside the Cora Harper Community Center about overcoming adversity, oftentimes leaving the crowd hushed while explaining in some detail the ordeal she infamously went through.
“I could feel the knife lying against my neck — cold and sharp,” she said of the night she was kidnapped from her Salt Lake City home by abductor Brian David Mitchell, or “Emmanuel” as she would come to know him.
“I will kill anyone who comes after you,” she remembered him saying.
Smart recalled the time spent in Mitchell’s camp in the woods and then in San Diego County before her eventual rescue March 12, 2003 in Utah.
Smart also elicited laughter from the crowd on several occasions and provided perspective on her keynote topic.
“I can promise you this,” she said, “life can be wonderful again. You can be happy again.”
She said the best advice she ever received was from her mother.
“There aren’t words strong enough to describe how evil and wicked (Mitchell) is,” her mother told her. “But the best punishment you can give him is to be happy. At the end of the day, God will make up everything you lost to you.”
Lydia Manzanares commented on the Desert Dispatch Facebook page that she was “riveted” by Smart’s story.
“To come from such despair and still be able to see the blessings,” she wrote, “is truly inspirational.”
Commenter Melissa Barnes felt similarly.
“She did a wonderful job delivering a powerful message in an uplifting way,” Barnes wrote.
Following Smart’s speech, which lasted approximately an hour, the hospital and the Barstow Youth Advisory Council each presented her with gifts.
YAC President Keisha Crawford said they gave her a blue ribbon that she could pay forward — an idea based on the “Who I Am Makes A Difference” program, which aims to inspire others through positive acknowledgment.
BCH Community Outreach Coordinator Aimara Freeman and Mayor Julie Hackbarth-McInytre hosted the event. Prior to Smart’s keynote speech, winners from the 2013 Lose to Win competition were recognized.
The weight-loss challenge is in its fifth year and presented by BCH and Fitness MD.
Participants had 12 weeks through Sept. 3 to lose as much weight as possible in a healthy manner for various prizes.
Kimberly Pevehouse won the individual competition after dropping 20 percent of her body weight. Coach Heather Stoops’ team, Waste Management, won the team award, collectively dropping 195 total pounds, or an average of 21 pounds per person.
Runner-ups and non-coached winners were also recognized.
Music for the event came from the Ken Courtney Jazz Ensemble; drinks were courtesy of Route 66 Flooring; members of the Barstow Junior High School Associated Student Body served food provided by Michael Lewis and Quigley’s Restaurant; High Desert Flames Little League operated the valet service; Andi Flores and the Healthy Woman Committee decorated the community center; Ladykaratbars.com were responsible for the centerpieces and the Showpros took care of the audio and visual presentation.
Partners of the event included: Desert Community Bank, Heritage Victor Valley Medical Group, Fitness MD, Ryan Crosby of State Farm, Stewart’s Tax Service, Miers & Miers certified public accountants, Alaska USA Federal Credit Union, Holiday Inn Express, Tanger Outlets, Printing Solutions, Culligan, The Highway Vibe 98.1 and the Desert Dispatch.
Visit BarstowHospital.com/HealthyWoman for more information.
Shea Johnson may be reached at (760) 256-4126 or at SJohnson@DesertDispatch.com.