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Friday, April 12, 2024
<p>Laura Kalt, an Alachua County victim advocate counselor, will receive the “Victim Advocate of the Year Award” for her work on the Aguilar case.</p>

Laura Kalt, an Alachua County victim advocate counselor, will receive the “Victim Advocate of the Year Award” for her work on the Aguilar case.

Vulnerability can be a strength.

For Laura Kalt, an Alachua County victim advocate counselor, sharing in the struggles and sorrows of others is a way of life.

Because of her dedication to the Christian Aguilar case during the fall, she will be presented with the “Victim Advocate of the Year Award” April 24 by the Office of the Attorney General in Tallahassee.

Carlos Aguilar, Christian Aguilar’s father, expressed his appreciation for Kalt’s commitment.

“We’ve been touched and blessed by such wonderful professionals,” he said. “They became part of the search and the efforts, and they continue to support us even now.”

Kalt became involved with the case Sept. 24, three days after Christian Aguilar, an 18-year-old UF biomedical engineering freshman, was reported missing.

For the next few weeks, Kalt helped coordinate volunteers in the search and counsel the Aguilar family.

“You really can’t say much,” she said. “But at least you can be there with them, so they don’t have to go through it alone.”

Kalt worked overtime to ensure the Aguilars and their extended family had food and housing during the search. She also distributed fliers throughout the city and spent hours with the family for any news of Christian Aguilar’s location. She said the hardest day was when Gainesville Police determined Christian Aguilar would not be found alive.

“I broke down, too,” she said. “You never want to hear that someone’s never going to see their child again.”

Kalt emphasized the importance of establishing genuine relationships with families of victims in crises.

“We’re another human being who is going to accept them and be there for them,” she said.

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She said the Aguilar case was special because of how it impacted her.

“The family was going through something so incredibly painful, but they were so dignified and solid,” she said.

She said Carlos Aguilar was the first person to call to congratulate her for receiving the award. She responded by inviting him and other people involved in the search efforts to share in the award.

Laura Templeton, a fellow victim advocate with Alachua County, was impressed with Kalt’s willingness to share the award.

“Really, the Alachua County community should be honored, and that’s her stance,” Templeton said. “She’s just so willing to share ... and knows the real impact and the ripple effect in the community.”

Laura Kalt, an Alachua County victim advocate counselor, will receive the “Victim Advocate of the Year Award” for her work on the Aguilar case.

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