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 “TAKE FLIGHT” GALA | Saturday, October 7th, 2017

“TAKE FLIGHT”  is an aviation inspired gala benefiting Redemption Ridge. The event will be held at an aircraft hangar located at 2080 Milligan Way in Medford on Saturday, October 7th, 2017, beginning at 6pm.

The Take Flight theme reflects the inner beauty and strength of human sex trafficking survivors and their ability to “TAKE FLIGHT” as they embrace new lives of hope and restoration.

Guest speakers include Redemption Ridge’s Survivor-Leader and Spokesperson, Ella Smillie, who will share her journey out of the sex trafficking industry and her ability to “fly free” from her past.

Then buckle your seat belts, as we welcome the highly decorated Colonel Gregory D. Gadson, from Washington D.C., for a motivational message that touches the heart and soul. Colonel Gadson served in every major conflict of the last two decades. A bilateral above-the-knee amputee, Colonel Gadson will share an inspirational message of overcoming adversity, discovering hope, and embracing change.

Enjoy live music performed by Mercy’s Lynda Morrison, a fantastic dinner prepared by Quality Catering, and a delicious theme-inspired dessert all paired with local wines and craft beer will complete a spectacular evening of community, hope, and transformation.

* We kindly request that event guests wear black and white attire in support of the theme.

Tickets are $85 per person


About Ella Smillie

Ella Smillie was a sexually exploited and trafficked girl and young woman. She doesn’t remember ever being in a “normal” home environment.

At 21 Ella was given a hand up through a law enforcement agency that offered her restoration in a home for sexually exploited women. Ella spent over 2 years in intensive trauma informed therapy, another 3 years in outpatient care and with an amazing amount of love, education and validation Ella is the poised, authentic and beautiful soul you will see today. Upon her release from the therapeutic environment Ella went to live with a loving host family who relocated to Oregon in 2015.

Since then, Ella has spent her time as a ‘Survivor Leader’ and spokesperson for Redemption Ridge, an organization dedicated to the healing and restoration of sexual exploited young females survivors of sex trafficking.  A Survivor Leader is just that. A person who has survived the atrocities of human sex trafficking,  experienced extensive therapy, and developed leadership qualities to help others.

Ella is passionate about bringing awareness to young women about the subject of human sex trafficking. “If I can change the direction of just one girl, enlighten her to the predatory nature of pimps, and therefore influence her life, then my purpose for doing what I do will be met.”

About Colonel Gregory D.  Gadson

Colonel Gregory D. Gadson, a Chesapeake, Va., native; served our nation in the United States Army for more than 26 years.

Col. Gadson’s service culminated as the Garrison Commander of Fort Belvoir, where he oversaw the daily operations of the post, a strategic sustaining base where more than 50,000 military personnel and employees provide logistical, intelligence, medical and administrative support, and command and control for a mix of more than 140 commands and agencies for the Department of Defense.

A 25-year career Army officer, Col. Gadson’s life is a portrait of courage in the face of great adversity. In May 2007, as commander of the 2nd Battalion, 32nd Field Artillery, Col. Gadson’s greatest challenge came in Iraq, where an Improvised Explosive Device (IED) attack cost him both legs above the knees and normal use of his right arm and hand. Despite this, Gadson remained on active duty in the Army and continued to inspire many with his message of courage, perseverance, determination and teamwork.

Refusing to be defined by the proverbial “hail of bullets,” he has since drawn upon the lessons of Pride, Poise and Team, learned as a West Point linebacker, and applied them to his life, career and family.

Commissioned as a 2nd lieutenant of Field Artillery in 1989 from the United States Military Academy at West Point, Greg served in every major conflict of the past two decades, including Operations Desert Shield/Storm in Kuwait; Operation Joint Forge in Bosnia-Herzegovina; Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan and Operation Iraqi Freedom. Greg served in various assignments throughout the world.

He dedicated himself to leading the Soldiers, civilian employees and family members in living the Army Values of Loyalty, Duty, Respect, Selfless Service, Honor, Integrity and Personal Courage. Greg is a passionate advocate for wounded warriors, veterans and those with disabilities; on several occasions, testified before Congress on issues related to these groups.

In 2007, Tom Coughlin, New York Giants head coach, asked Gadson to meet with the then-struggling team. Gadson talked to the players about service, teamwork, duty, perseverance and adversity. His message resonated and the New York Giants defeated the 18-0 New England Patriots in Super Bowl XLII. Greg made his silver screen debut in 2012 as a lead actor in the blockbuster movie Battleship; where he portrayed a war-injured veteran that helped save the world from an alien invasion. In 2015, he completed season one of The Inspectors, a family television series on CBS. Greg continues a very energetic and dynamic lifestyle where he continues to serve his nation as an entrepreneur and managing partner of Patriot Strategies, LLC, a government services company.

He is also an accomplished photographer/artist and remains active in cycling, skiing and scuba.

Greg’s military awards include the Distinguished Service Medal; Legion of Merit (2); Bronze Stars (3); Purple Heart; the Meritorious Service Medal (3) and the Army Commendation Medal (3). He is a graduate of Command and General Staff College at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas; and holds masters degrees in Information Systems from Webster University; and Policy Management from Georgetown University. He holds an honorary Doctorate of Laws from Webster University.

Take Flight will be an evening of education, inspiration, and motivation, as we learn how to support the most vulnerable population of young female survivors of sex trafficking in our region. For additional information contact the Redemption Ridge Resource Center at: 541.816.4415 or email:

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