Former Kansas State Senator Greg Smith launched his public career for a reason he would wish on no one. In June 2007, a stranger abducted his 18-year-old daughter Kelsey from the parking lot of a Target store in Overland Park. The stranger drove Kelsey into Missouri where he sexually assaulted her and strangled her. It would be four days before her body was found. Kelsey’s murderer is now serving life without the possibility of parole in a Kansas prison.
Greg and wife Missey channeled their rage and heartbreak into the Kelsey Smith Foundation, a remarkably successful operation given its minimal resources. In 2009, they worked with Kansas legislator Rob Olson to pass the Kelsey Smith Act, which was signed into law by Gov. Kathleen Sibelius in April 2009.
The law compels wireless telecommunications carriers to cooperate with police in locating a phone when there is an immediate risk of death or serious physical harm to a person who is lost or has been kidnapped. Since the passage of the law, twenty-three additional states have followed suit, including Missouri and, most recently, Indiana, which Gov. Mike Pence signed into law. Federal legislation is pending.
In 2010, Greg was elected to represent District 22 in the Kansas State House. In 2012, he was elected to the Kansas State Senate, representing the 21st District, both in Johnson County. In 2016, like several other state senators, he fell victim to the “moderate” pushback and lost in the August Republican primary. That loss just gave Greg, now a school teacher, more time to dedicate to his true calling.
Today, the Kelsey Smith Foundation may well be the only organization in the United States that focuses a program on those most likely be the victim of a violent crime–young people between the ages thirteen and twenty-four, males being even more vulnerable than females.
A former law enforcement officer, Greg speaks with both passion and knowledge in the several programs that the Foundation offers for young people and their parents. The Foundation has also created a program for mothers of pre-schoolers, which, like the others, is evidence-based and uses the most recent data available.
“I always have a hard time bragging on us,” Greg tells the Sentinel, “I just want to keep people safe and our programs do that. If I could have one wish for the Foundation it would be to increase our fundraising so we can meet the demand for our services.”
For more information, readers are invited to take a look at www.kelseysarmy.org.