SAN LUIS OBISPO — This past Saturday night, dozens gathered for a candlelight vigil to show love and support for missing Cal Poly student Kristin Smart. As candles lit up a corner of Santa Rosa Park in San Luis Obispo, organizer and host Marie Inman started the event as Kristin’s favorite songs softly played in the background. 

“You, showing up today, you guys are Kristin’s heroes — thank you for being here,” Inman shared.

“Look around, this our community, get to know each other, we are all in this community supporting each other and supporting Kristin Smart and her family. If anyone had a daughter, a son, a friend who disappeared, our community would come together and be here to keep that memory alive until we were able to bring that person home. Standing here today, being that this is our community, this what you guys are doing. This is all love, compassion and hope. If any of you are asking yourself what you can do for Kristin Smart or what you can do for the Smart family this is it. What you guys are doing right now, being here, showing up today and showing up when we have vigils and events, you are showing the Smart family that you support them, and you are showing Kristin that her memory will never be forgotten.”

Smart’s childhood friend Ann-Marie Christian McEntire read a letter written from Stan and Denise Smart on behalf of the Smart family who were watching live from their home in Stockton. 

“[Chris Lambert] refused to let silence bury Kristin’s voice,” the letter read. “He’s the glue we were missing. He brought you here and to know that so many of you care and love our daughter fills us with hope. She would be honored to know you are here, and there is no doubt she is sending you a little ‘aloha.’ “Together, we will bring Kristin home.” 

Following the reading, Chuck Inman read a prayer, and Marie Inman shared the microphone with those who gave words of gratitude and encouragement for the Smart Family, the event and the organizers behind it. Among those in the crowd was Chris Lambert, who has given new life to the case, with his podcast. Inman focused directly on Lambert and thanked him for his selfless dedication and passion that has brought so many people together to continue the fight to bring Kristin home.  

Like the fire that lit the first candle of the night, Lambert’s podcast shares the light from listener to listener, and the hope for Kristin Smart and her family has not burned brighter in more than a decade. 

With new leads that have surfaced since the podcast was released, it seems that individuals that were in direct contact with Smart or Paul Flores are now willing to come forward and tell their side of the story. In the latest episode of “Your Own Back Yard” the Sheriff’s office sat down with Lambert for an interview. Immediately following the release of the podcast, a statement from the Sheriff’s office was emailed to all news media outlets detailing out the progress that has been made and confirmed that they are in possession of two trucks that were owned by the Flores family during the time of Smart’s disappearance. With the new information coming in every day, the podcast and all the volunteers that are fighting to keep Kristin Smart’s memory alive, the feeling that was shared by everyone that night, this is the year we bring Kristin home.   

Upcoming events include another candlelight vigil and a walk along the last known path of Kristin, among others. To stay informed on upcoming events and information, join the Facebook group “Find Kristin Smart,” or go to yourownbackyardpodcast.com or kristinsmart.org and follow our news channels for more updates.

Getting through this together, Paso Robles