VALLEJO, Calif. - Almost two decades ago, Midsi Sanchez was 8 years old when she survived a harrowing ordeal when she was abducted by a stranger in Vallejo.
She recently started her own foundation to bring a child safety program to elementary schools to prevent abduction and abuse.
Sanchez plans to use a question-and-answer skit with a puppet to engage children this fall.
The puppet used in the skit is a dragon, perhaps a metaphor for Sanchez's own.story, slaying the dragon of her past.
"It's more of a healing process," Sanchez said. "I get to use my story that was so much trauma, but I get to use it for triumph."
In 2000, she was an elementary school girl walking home from school when she was kidnapped by a stranger named Curtis Dean Anderson. He kept her for three days before she made her escape.
The opportunity came when Anderson left her in his vehicle, chaining her leg to the steering wheel.
Sanchez managed to find the key lock and freed herself.
Anderson was arrested, convicted and later died from kidney failure in prison. Sanchez says her family didn't talk about the ordeal.
"We acted like it didn't happened and life went on," said Sanchez.
But life was never the same. She says she struggled with tauts and bullying at school which led to alcohol and drug abuse.
"I was angry at the world. This world was such a dark place," said Sanchez.
Then at 16, she was a passenger in a car accident. She suffered serious injuries and learned she was pregnant.
"Becoming a mom definitely changed my heart my thinking," said Sanchez.
She says she survived the kidnapping and car accident for a reason.
Her mission is advocacy for the protection of children.
She volunteers for the KlaasKids Foundation which was founded by the father of 12-year-old Polly Klaas of Petaluma who was kidnapped and killed in 1993.
Sanchez also works with children at the Solano County Family Justice Center.
She recently started the Midsi Sanchez Foundation.
"When Midsi talks about abduction, you have to listen because she knows more through personal experience about that subject than almost anybody, more than I know," said Polly's father, Marc Klaas.
Sanchez, a single mother, is raising her daughter, Ennalyse. She is now 8 years old, the same age as she was when she was kidnapped.
She says she has told her daughter about the abduction.
Sanchez says she is not defined by her ordeal, but that her story is a tool to help others and give them a reason for hope.
We can use our trial for triumph and come out stronger. It's not meant to keep us down," said Sanchez.
The 25-year-old says she considers herself lucky to have survived a horrendous ordeal and know her purpose in life.
She plans to hold a classic car show in Vallejo on July 28. The event will raise funds for her child safety program and the Midsi Sanchez Foundation.