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Amanda Berry, Michelle Knight, Gina DeJesus speak for the first time

5:00 PM, Jul 9, 2013   |    comments
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CLEVELAND, Oh. -- Amanda Berry, Michelle Knight and Gina DeJesus have released a statement on YouTube, thanking everyone for their support and generosity.

The statement, released at 12 a.m. EDT on the newly-created Hennes Paynter Communications YouTube channel, featured all three women, as well as Gina's mother and father.

In a statement released on behalf of the families of the three women:

"Amanda, Gina and Michelle wanted to say thank you to people from Cleveland and across the world, now that two months have passed," said Kathy Joseph, attorney for Michelle Knight. "People are recognizing them now as they go about in public, so they decided to put voices and faces to their heartfelt messages. It was their decision to relay their thanks in this way to all of the many people who have offered support to them, for which they are extremely grateful."

"But it is important for everyone, especially the media, to understand that the three women still have a strong desire for privacy," said James Wooley, attorney for Amanda Berry and Gina DeJesus. "They do not want to talk about their ordeal with the media or anyone else. This cannot be stated strongly enough. We thank everyone for the privacy and courtesy shown to Amanda, Gina and Michelle over the last few months and ask that this continue."

"I'm getting stronger each day and having my privacy has helped immensely," Berry said in the video.

Berry asked for her continued privacy going forward.

Nancy Ruiz and Felix DeJesus also extend their deepest gratitude in the video and offer some advice to the community.

"Parents ... who have a loved one missing ... count on your neighbors. Don't be afraid to ask for the help because help is available," said Ruiz.

Michelle Knight offers uplifting words of her resolve and tenacity.

"I may have been through hell and back, but I am strong enough to walk through hell with a smile on my face and with my head held high and my feet firmly on the ground," Knight said. "I will not let the situation define who I am. I will define the situation."

Knight said she will not let her experience consume her with hatred and has remained strong in her faith.

"We need to take a leap of faith and know that God is in control," Knight said. "The plan that He gave me was to help others that have been in the same situations I have been in."

All three women thanked the community for their ongoing prayers and support.

As of July 2, 2013, when the video was recorded, more than $1,050,000 has been donated to the fund with over 9,200 individual donors.

To donate to the Cleveland Courage Fund, follow this link:


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