Posted on January 10, 2013 at 11:48 PM
LACEY, Wash. -- Melissa Baum and Elizabeth Smart are not related by blood, but by tragedy.
Baum's daughter Melissa disappeared in 2009 in McCleary, near Olympia. Her mother has not seen her in three and a half years.
Smart was 14 when she was kidnapped in 2002 in Utah. Police found her alive nine months later.
The two women met for the first time Thursday in Lacey, but Smart's been an inspiration for Baum since 2009.
"From the moment that I realized what had happened to Lindsey, I thought of Elizabeth," said Baum.
Baum credits Smart's story for never giving up hope that police will find her daughter alive.
"If she [Smart] can do it, I know Lindsey can," said Baum.
Smart, now 25, has a foundation and travels the country educating parents and children about missing and exploited children.
"I have an opportunity that's one in a million," Smart said.
Smart said she is humbled when she's told she's an inspiration, but she'll take that label if it gives parents hope.
Baum said Smart is living proof kids who disappear, can come back home.
"We don't have to listen to people telling us about statistics, probabilities or to prepare for the worst. It's just not the case," said Baum.