SARASOTA - Every Monday we bring you a story of an amazing woman here on the Suncoast. And today we introduce you to a remarkable Sarasota woman who went from making headlines as a victim to using her story to inspire thousands around the world.
Often when someone goes through a horrific, life-threatening experience, they withdraw and refuse to talk about their experience. Linda Larson took one of the worst things that can happen to a person and used it build a new life and a new career.
Now a world-renowned motivational speaker, Larsen brings the house down at conventions and meetings. But it’s a world away from the woman she was when she was kidnapped in 1969.
"I was 21 and I was suffering from clinical depression and manic attacks. And the morning of the kidnapping I had come the closest I'd ever been to taking my own life."
It happened on Main Street in Sarasota. "That was the morning that the escaped convict came into my law office where I was working as a front desk receptionist, slammed a gun in my face, and took me hostage for five hours."
He said he was going to kill her. "I remember thinking that morning I was ready to die. Those were my exact words -- I am ready to die. And his exact words to me when he picked up the gun and pointed it very directly between my eyes were, ‘are you ready to die?’"
The answer was no. And when he left the room, she ran. "I ran to the back door, I threw it open -- I'm surprised it didn't fly off.”
She got away.
Larson went on to graduate from college and Asolo Conservatory. She became a social worker, an actress, and now a motivational speaker. In the mid-1990s she met and married ABC 7's own meteorologist John Scalzi.
Now she travels the world inspiring others with her humor and her story. "When I say there’s no obstacle that can be thrown in front of you, that you can make your way through if you have the right mindset…and back that up with my story."