U.S. News


Cleveland Kidnapping Survivors Honored In D.C.

The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children honored Gina DeJesus and Amanda Berry Tuesday evening in Washington, D.C.
Posted at 2:23 PM, May 07, 2014

​Exactly one year to the day since their rescue, Cleveland kidnapping survivors Gina DeJesus and Amanda Berry were honored at the annual Hope Awards Tuesday in Washington. As a keynote speaker, Berry made a rare show of emotion while she gave a tearful speech.

BERRY: "If I could say only one thing, it would be this: Never give up hope because miracles do happen." (Via ABC)

According to WKYC, this is the first time either of them has left Ohio in more than 11 years and the first time they were on an airplane. Before the ceremony, the women met the president and vice president and took a tour of the White House.

The two were honored by the  National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. The organization focuses its efforts on "child victims of abduction and sexual exploitation," which is why Michelle Knight was not present. Knight was a 21-year-old adult in 2002 when she was abducted. Berry was one day away from turning 17, and DeJesus was 14 years old. (Via CBS)

The three women spent more than a decade in kidnapper Ariel Castro's so called "house of horrors," where they were reportedly kept chained up and repeatedly beaten and raped. After Berry managed to escape last May and call 911, the women were rescued and Castro was arrested. (Via CNN)

Although Knight, who now goes by Lillian Rose Lee, wasn't at the event, she still had a big week.

Her memoir, "Finding Me," was released Tuesday. (Via Amazon)

In D.C., the award was presented by host of "America's Most Wanted" John Walsh and his wife. In 1981, their 6-year-old son, Adam Walsh, was abducted and murdered. (Via The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children)

He spoke about the women's courage: "You figured out a way to stay alive for those 10 years, Georgina. ... Nobody was even looking for Michelle Knight. ... Nobody even knew that she was missing. ... I don't know how you found the courage, but you are a lightning bolt of hope." (Via The Plain Dealer)

Also honored at the event were ​Temar Boggs and Chris Garcia, the teenage boys who saved a 5-year-old girl after chasing down her abductor on their bikes last July.