CABOT, Ark. — Commanding the attention of a classroom full of ninth graders, Cabot freshman academy teacher Laura Abbott quizzes her students on the dangers of vaping.
“These are not the most helpful substances for us, right?” Abbot asks her class.
A teacher by trade, Laura Abbott has spent more than three decades motivating those around her to be better.
“She never gave up,” Leslie Boone tells KARK.
It all started in college. Abbott recruited anyone she could to form the women’s track team at the University of Central Arkansas.
“The athletic director said I’m never giving it to you, why do you keep coming back.”
Abbott wouldn’t take no for an answer. “
“I said there is some young woman out there dreaming of running college track and I want her to have those dreams met.”
After several years, Abbott’s persistence paid off and her dream came true.
“She is always advocating for somebody somewhere, and that’s what’s special about her,” Boone says.
Today Abbott is most known for using her voice to empower victims of domestic violence.
“We saw that there was a lack of information on resources being consistent throughout the state,” she says.
After surviving a near-deadly attack by her ex-husband in 2012, Abbott worked with lawmakers to help create Laura’s Card.
“Because information is power,” Abbott says.
The card with victims’ rights resources has made into the hands of more than 100,000 Arkansans. In 2019, the Department of Justice recognized Laura at its national crime victims’ service awards.
Whether it’s giving athletes an avenue to an education–or helping others heal from trauma, Abbott is thankful for her own journey.
“Share the stories. So we know we’re not alone and that shame is removed.”
Abbott is also part of a grassroots organization seeking a constitutional amendment for the state of Arkansas that would give victims standing and access to their own victims’ rights attorney.
Abbott is one of four local women who will be considered for the “Nexstar Woman of the Year” award in March.