First, a standing ovation for Amanda Berry who found some way to get to the front door and gain the attention of neighbors on May 6, 2013. Despite the ever-present danger to her life, she saved her daughter, Gina DeJesus, Michele Knight, and herself.
A tribute to Amanda and her co-captives. While facing terror and deprivation, these young women garnered enough resiliency and courage to survive a ten- to twelve-year ordeal. "Three women found alive after a decade in captivity endured lonely, dark lives inside a dingy home where they were raped and allowed outside only a handful of times in disguises while walking to a garage steps away," www.officer.com.
A hug to Jocelyn (age 6), Amanda Berry's daughter born in captivity, who never knew any other life until last month. May she know the pleasures of freedom and childhood that were kept from her for her first six years.
Cheers to the families of the missing girls turned women who suffered for so long and yet, as much as circumstances allowed, dared to hope for a miracle. Thankfully that miracle came.
A huge high-five to neighbor Charles Ramsey, and possibly other neighbors, who responded to things that didn't look or sound right at 2207 Seymour Avenue. Thank you for taking action.
A salute to the officers who first responded to the scene: Anthony Espada, Barbara Johnson, Michael Tracy, Michael Simon, John Graves, Matt Cavanaugh, and the rest of the Cleveland Police Department. Three of the officers described finding the missing women and the impact on themselves in the video, "Cleveland Patrol Officers Recount Finding Missing Women." When Michelle Knight ran from Officer Espada to Officer Johnson, she grabbed hold of Johnson and said, "Please don't let me go. Please don't let me go." They didn't.
An apology to the family of the accused in this abduction and torture case. If only the accusations and blame could be washed away and directed only where they belong...only toward the one man accused of these crimes, Ariel Castro.
Kudos to the Cleveland community which is doing what it can for these crime survivors in the wake of the tragedy. They have initiated the Cleveland Courage Fund for the four victims of this series of crimes. It will provide financial support now and into the future. An Ohio lawmaker has proposed a bill that would provide abduction survivors with a lifetime of medical care, a college education, and $25,000 annually, (www.abcnews.go.com). I hope the community will also help protect the privacy of these four survivors.
Elizabeth Smart, who had been held captive for nine months as a teenager, told Good Morning America, "I think it’s so important to respect their privacy to try to help give them every chance they can to find their own way, to find their own pathway back to some sense of well-being," www.latimes.com
Jaycee Dugard, a woman who had been abducted as a child and then held captive for 18 years, made this statement to the LA Times: "These individuals need the opportunity to heal and connect back into the world...This isn't who they are. It is only what happened to them. The human spirit is incredibly resilient. More then ever this reaffirms we should never give up hope."
May the survivors begin their life-long recovery while the justice system continues the process of investigating and prosecuting the accused for his unconscionable acts.
Two ways you can act:
- Cleveland Courage Fund: Make a direct contribution to the four who suffered most from this series of crimes. One-hundred percent of the funds will go to the three women and one child allegedly held captive by Castro. The fund had $850,000 as of June 7, 2013. Donate here: http://www.clevelandfoundation.org/about/cleveland-courage-fund/
- The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children: Support the NCMEC in its ongoing efforts to locate missing children in the United States. You can help in many ways. Donate funds, stay informed, and/or spread the word about missing children in your area. Learn more here: http://www.missingkids.com/home
Andolsen, Rita, "Cleveland Courage Fund Continues to Grow," www.wkyc.com, 6/7/2013.
Barr, Meghan, "More Details Come to Light in Ohio Kidnappings," www.officer.com, 5/9/2013.
Kiska, Paul, "Cleveland Courage Fund for Gina, Michelle, Amanda Climbs to $750,000 With More Ways to Help," www.newsnet5.com, 5/28/2013.
National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, "Statement from the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children on Recent Ohio Recovery," www.missingkids.com, 5/7/2013.
Ng, Christina, "Abducted Cleveland Women Bill Would Provide Them an Income, Education and Health Care," www.abcnews.go.com, 6/5/2013.
Pearce, Matt, "Elizabeth Smart, Jaycee Dugard React to Cleveland Kidnapping," www.latimes.com, 5/7/2013.
Plain Dealer staff, "Cleveland Police Video Interviews Officers Who Rescued Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus and Michelle Knight," www.cleveland.com, 5/17/2013.
Yenko, Athena, "Police Recounts Emotional Cleveland Rescue of Amanda Berry, Gina de Jesus, Michelle Knight," www.au.ibtimes.com, 5/20/2013.