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  • A story that captured the Nation

    Having been the oldest of five children raised by a single parent, a teen mom and then married to a cop, Missey had seen a lot in her life. Nothing could have prepared her for the horror of what occurred on June 2, 2007.

    In June 2007, a dark-haired young woman of eighteen, who’d graduated from high school nine days earlier, briskly walked out of a Target store in broad daylight carrying a gift for a friend. Eventually, the police acquired parking lot surveillance video that had recorded the unthinkable – Kelsey Smith was abducted.

    Family and friends began the frantic search to find Kelsey. In fact, the coordinated effort to find her grew so large the volunteers became known as “Kelsey’s Army." That video of Kelsey walking out of the store had been broadcast across the nation. Days later, to the utter horror of those who knew and loved her, Kelsey’s body was found. Forensic evidence revealed that she was sexually assaulted and strangled to death.

    A Mother’s Resolution

    Missey Smith, and her husband Greg, lived this nightmare. Emerging from the devastation, this amazingly strong woman made a decision early on that would define her future. Kelsey’s killer would get no more from her family. She and Greg would take action to save others.

    When Kelsey was abducted, she had her cell phone with her, but the cell phone company refused repeated requests by law enforcement to release her cell phone location information. Missey told Greg that it either takes lawsuits or legislation to get large corporations to do the right thing. Therefor the Kelsey Smith Act was born. In the years since, Missey has tirelessly promoted, and continues to promote, this legislation throughout the country. Fourteen States, many of which she has either testified in or at least provided written testimony, have adopted it into law. Police are now able to get immediate access to cell records to locate missing persons or someone whose life is in danger. Knowing that lives have been saved using this law further fuels her to continue on.

    Having seen the impact of “Kelsey’s Law, Missey and Greg saw another opportunity to continue to effect change, Greg decided to run for political office in Kansas. Missey, having had no political background or training, became the campaign manager and advisor, for his successful campaigns for first the House, then just recently for the Senate.

    Missey’s motivations didn’t end with helping only those who had been victimized, though. Remember “Kelsey’s Army”? In July 2007, a mere month after Kelsey’s murder, she and Greg harnessed the energy and heart of those early volunteers and established The Kelsey Smith Foundation.

    The mission statement of the Kelsey Smith Foundation is:
    1. To honor and perpetuate the life of Kelsey Smith by empowering families, friends, and communities to proactively protect one of its most precious resources, namely its youth and young adults;
    2. To develop, implement, and provide targeted prevention education, instruction and resources, including shared information and techniques, focused on safeguarding youth and young adults;
    3. To recommend and provide advocacy programs and resources should a youth or young adult be missing or abducted; and
    4. To develop and assist in the development of programs and projects that has both state-wide and national applicability and impact.

    Whether it’s Safety Awareness Seminars that provide real world tools and information to enhance personal safety, or Parent Overview Seminars to make parents more aware of trends in violent crime against youths and young adults, Missey and Greg along with all the Foundation volunteers are committed to protection and empowerment of young people.

    Having the opportunity to win this award will allow Missey, Greg, and the Foundation to continue to perpetuate Kelsey’s legacy through education and preparedness, as well as save more lives by promoting the adoption of Kelsey’s Law in all 50 states. As their motto states:

    “Together We Will Make A Difference.”

    Thank you for your vote!

    Melissa Smith is a Rare Life Award Nominee. Read her story and vote here!
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