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Elizabeth Smart Event Raises $50,000 For STAR, Serving New Canaan

STAR therapist Nancy Meaney with the Heavey family of New Canaan and Elizabeth Smart. Photo Credit: Contributed
Sharon Crowley of Fox5 News, Elizabeth Smart and Katie Banzhaf, Executive Director of STAR Photo Credit: Contributed
STAR clients Walter Krulinski, Josh Williams, Talisha Maxwell, Daniel Herskowitz and STAR staff member Annette Clark meet Elizabeth Smart Photo Credit: Contributed
Elizabeth Cahill of New Canaan, Lisa Rich of Stamford, Paula Callari of Weston, Guest Speaker Elizabeth Smart, Deborah Sanders of New Canaan, Mary Ferrara of Darien, Kit Thorpe of Stamford, Carolyn Corcoran of New Canaan Photo Credit: Contributed
Stephanie Sisk of Norwalk, Meghan Cioffi of New Canaan, Guest Speaker Elizabeth Smart, Minky Houck of Rowayton and Meredith Siburn of Ridgefield Photo Credit: Contributed

DARIEN, Conn. -- Elizabeth Smart, abduction survivor and author of New York Times bestseller “My Story,” was the featured speaker at a gathering last month in Darien that raised more than $50,000 for a Norwalk-based organization serving people with developmental disabilities in Fairfield County.

Smart, who gained national attention in 2003 when she was kidnapped then rescued later that year, spoke to a sold-out crowd of over 420 people at STAR’s Fourth Annual Speaker’s Luncheon on March 31 at Woodway Country Club in Darien.

Moderated by Fox 5 reporter and anchor Sharon Crowley, the event raised more than $50,000 to benefit programs and services for people with intellectual disabilities in Darien, Norwalk, Westport, Wilton, New Canaan and Weston.

"I am sure I speak for everyone when I say I was humbled and moved by the words of our featured guest, whose compelling and inspirational story is a testament to the power of the human spirit when tested by fate and buoyed by faith,” said Katie Banzhaf, executive director of STAR.

Smart shared her story and how she relied on faith to help her get her life back after her ordeal. She turned into a victims' rights advocate, wrote "My Story" about her experiences and a Department of Justics publication entitled "You're Not Alone: The Journey from Abduction to Empowerment."

She also founded the Elizabeth Smart Foundation and helped promote the national AMBER Alert system. She's married and recently had a daughter.

The event also featured parents who are involved in STAR programs sharing their experiences. STAR, Inc., Lighting the Way, is a not-for-profit organization that started in 1952 to serve people of all ages with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

For more details, visit the organization's website .

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