BOONE — Child safety activist, author and abduction victim Elizabeth Smart will visit Boone later this month for the Women's Fund of the Blue Ridge's annual Power of the Purse luncheon and silent auction.

The event — the largest annual fundraiser for the Women's Fund of the Blue Ridge — takes place Thursday, June 27, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Holmes Convocation Center on Appalachian State University's campus. Tickets are $100 per person.

The abduction of Elizabeth Smart was one of the most followed child abduction cases of our time. She was abducted on June 5, 2002, and her captors controlled her by threatening to kill her and her family if she tried to escape. Fortunately, the police safely returned Smart back to her family on March 12, 2003, after being held a prisoner for nine grueling months.

Through this traumatic experience, Smart has become an advocate for change related to child abduction, recovery programs and national legislation. Smart testified before her captor and the world about the very private nightmare she suffered during her abduction, which led to conviction.

Smart, the author of the New York Times-bestselling book “Where There's Hope,” will give a talk of the same name at the 13th annual luncheon. Smart will share her story of perseverance in the face of unimaginable adversity. Her speech not only tells her personal story but will also touch on topics such as overcoming extreme adversity, the importance and process of recovery and not allowing your past to dictate your life's future.

Power of the Purse raises money for WFBR, which is a Boone nonprofit comprised of “women philanthropists who want to make a positive impact on the lives of women and girls in the High Country,” the WFBR website states. Funds raised by Power of the Purse will go to WFBR's grants awarded to local charities and nonprofits.

Last year’s POP luncheon raised $60,000, and WFBR donated money to 10 different nonprofits, said Karen Marinelli, executive director of the Women’s Fund of the Blue Ridge.

“We expect a big crowd,” Marinelli said. The annual POP event typically draws about 200 people, but the organization is planning to double that attendance this year, she said. “We’re on track to do that right now,” she said on May 17.

The luncheon will include a catered lunch and a silent auction from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., including 75-100 items of jewelry, art, wine packages, wood crafts, purses and more, followed by Smart's talk.

“We wanted to have a nationally known speaker, and she speaks so well to our mission — perseverance, adversity; it seemed like a really great representation,” Marinelli said.

At the end of the luncheon, Marinelli said she hopes attendees will be inspired by Smart's resilience.

"You can overcome things and sometimes you need help or understanding or having someone to talk to,” Marinelli said. “It’s pretty unimaginable what she went through, but she was hopeful and came out the other end.”

To purchase tickets online, visit www.womensfundoftheblueridge.org/powerofthepurse. To purchase tickets by phone, call (828) 264-4002.

Anna Oakes contributed reporting to this article.

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