CLEVELAND (WJW) – It’s been 10 years to the day since three Cleveland women escaped a living nightmare spanning years of their lives.
The whole world watched as Amanda Berry, Michelle Knight and Gina DeJesus were rescued from a house of horrors on May 6, 2013. The three women lived through the unspeakable, but they survived. Now, the community is celebrating their strength.
Several dozen people gathered to remember and celebrate the Seymour Avenue Survivors and march for women’s reproductive rights.
Women’s March Cleveland, the Imperial Women Coalition and several other groups organized the event.
The survivors did not attend the gathering, but DeJesus’s family was present.
“This day for me is the greatest day of my life because I got my daughter back,” Gina’s mother Nancy Ruiz said. “It was not just her, because there were two others. I wanna thank every single one of you for coming out and being here with us.”
The survivor’s captor Ariel Castro was sentenced to life in prison plus 1,000 years in August 2013. He committed suicide after about a month behind bars. The home was also demolished in August the same year.
“We went through a lot of years suffering because my daughter was not home with us,” Gina’s father Felix DeJesus said.
Felix reflected on all the effort it took to get her back home, but through it all they never lost hope.
Now, all three women are inspirations who are making a major impact in Cleveland.
Berry’s ‘Missing’ segments on FOX 8 have served as a great tool to help locate other missing people. Knight, who now goes by Lily Rose Lee, runs Unleashed Animal Rescue, a non-profit run from her home.
And DeJesus started the Cleveland Family Center for Missing Children and Adults, for which she received a proclamation.
Felix is hopeful more parents will pay closer attention to their kids, including the small details that are frequently overlooked. All in the interest to better protect children.
“There’s still a lot of children out here that are missing that need our help,” he said.