CLEVELAND (WJW) – Nine years ago today, law enforcement swarmed Seymour Avenue in Cleveland after a heroic call came into 911 from Amanda Berry that said, “I’m here, I’m free now.”

Amanda had gone missing ten years earlier as a teenager, but now escaped through an unlocked door with her very young daughter, Gina DeJesus and Michelle Knight, who had all also been abused and held captive.

“I try not to think about it, but it’s like the dates on the calendar don’t let you forget,” said Amanda. “Yeah, I still think about it when the month comes.”

But this anniversary, she was in for an incredible surprise.

Inside FOX 8 studio Friday morning, U.S. Marshals surrounded her once again with hugs and kindness, bringing with them a big announcement.

“It’s great to honor individuals that deserve it and Amanda Berry deserves it,” said Pete Elliott, U.S. Marshal of the Northern District of Ohio.

For more than five years, Amanda has partnered with FOX 8 Team to help bring home others who are missing. 

She also recorded an impactful PSA for the U.S. Marshals.

“A PSA for deputies who are coming on and interested in working missing kid cases,” said U.S. Marshals Asst. Chief Anne Murphy.

In the PSA, Amanda talks about how her mother never gave up looking for her daughter and continually hounded law enforcement and media to spread the word and search for Amanda.

Amanda even remembers seeing her mother on television at vigils.

“That just gave me so much hope, like she’s still fighting for me. She’s still out there and my sister as well,” said Amanda.

In the PSA, she tells deputies, agents and officers to “fight like a mother, to fight like my mother. My mom made sure people believed in my case and I need you to believe in each case you take on.”

Sadly, Amanda’s mother passed away before she escaped.

“I thought I would come home to my mom. I didn’t get a chance to do that so that’s the only thing that hurts,” she said with tears welling in her eyes.

That’s why she works tirelessly to bring others home and says she will never stop.

For all of her efforts, Amanda has now won the 69th Annual Attorney General’s Award.

“It’s a top award in the whole United States of America and here in Northern Ohio, only one in the country,” said Elliott, “She’s making a difference in kids’ lives, she’s making a difference for generations to come.”

U.S. Marshals in the Northern District of Ohio are also being recognized for recovering dozens of children in Operation Safety Net, along with Gina DeJesus, Survivor and Founder of The Cleveland Center for Missing Persons, Andy Fishman, FOX 8 News Director and Carrie Young, FOX 8 News Producer.

“So that’s saying a lot about the work that we do together and partnerships together and says a lot about Amanda Berry,” said Elliott.

Amanda is honored and grateful but also taking it in stride.

“I just tell people, ‘I’m just Amanda, just Amanda and here to do the best that I can and anything I can to help them,’” she said, encouraging people with missing loved ones or who are out there on their own to never give up hope.

“I know it sounds so cliché to never give up hope, but really hope is all you have sometimes,” she said.