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Elizabeth Smart honored with $50K Vital Voices Award



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SALT LAKE CITY — Elizabeth Smart is among four women to receive a Vital Voices Award for her courage and strength.

Designer Diane von Furstenberg has announced this year's winners of the second annual DVF Awards, which honor women have the courage to fight, the power to survive and the leadership to inspire.

Smart was chosen as the public figure award winner. The winners each receive $50,000 to help further their cause. The awards will be given out March 11.

Furstenberg said she admires Smart for guiding legislation and offering support for victims of abduction.

"I was so impressed with her strength and her dignity and her leadership," Furstenberg said.

On June 5, 2002, Smart was taken at knifepoint and held captive for nine months when she was 14 years old. Within hours of the kidnapping, Smart was forced into a polygamous marriage with Brian David Mitchell, tethered to a metal cable and subjected to near-daily rapes while being forced to use alcohol and drugs.

After Mitchell was convicted Dec. 10, 2010, of kidnapping Smart, she said, "Today is a wonderful day, and I'm so thrilled to be here, and I'm so thrilled with the verdict. But not only that, I'm so thrilled to stand before the people of America today and give hope to other victims who have not spoken out about what's happened to them. I hope that not only is this an example that justice can be served in America, but that it is possible to move on after something terrible has happened and that we can speak out and we will be heard."

Ed Smart, Elizabeth's father, has said his daughter is thinking about become a prosecutor and giving "a voice for those people who don't have a voice."

Smart is scheduled to return home in April from her mission to France for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. She is expected to testify at the May 25, 2011, sentencing of Mitchell.

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Story written by Viviane Vo-duc, with contributions from Logan Daniels.

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