Editor’s note: This article was originally published on Nov. 8, 2017. On Tuesday, PEOPLE confirmed that the woman who helped kidnap Elizabeth Smart will be released from prison next week.
It’s a recent autumn day in Park City, Utah, and everything seems golden — the perfect excuse for another trip to the park for Elizabeth Smart, 30, and her two children, Chloe, 2, and 8-month-old James.
Smart, who moved to the ski-resort town after she got married five and a half years ago, lives near the park and adjacent soccer field and visits so frequently that “it’s like a second home,” she says.
As she settles her son onto a blanket on the grass and watches Chloe giggle with a new friend on the playground’s slide, Smart tells PEOPLE she has much for which to be thankful.
“My children have brought so much happiness and joy,” she says. “To me, they’re the very definition of love.”
Married to Matthew Gilmour, a Scot she met while both were serving missions for the Mormon Church in France, Smart wondered 15 years ago if a normal life and motherhood would ever be possible after she was kidnapped from her bedroom late one summer’s night in 2002 and brutalized by her captors for nine months before being rescued.
“Today, I’m so grateful for the small things,” she tells PEOPLE exclusively.
“I’m grateful for rain, because when I was kidnapped, that meant that I had…
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