Gina DeJesus impromptu guest of honor at Cleveland National Night Out event

CLEVELAND - The day Gina DeJesus came home after being held captive for nine years inside the Seymour Avenue home of Ariel Castro, her mother asked that people show up for National Night Out at Steelyard Commons in August.

Her father talked about having a block party – Tuesday night both came to be.

The National Night Out event that Felix DeJesus and Nancy Ruiz attended each year as parents searching for a daughter they attended this year as parents celebrating her return.

And this year, she joined them.

"It was a shock to me when she told me that she wanted to come down here," said Felix. "She's strong and she wanted to do this."

Gina stayed in the tent of the Guardian Angels outside of the view of cameras. The crowd straining for a glimpse of the young woman they had searched and prayed for over the years.

That so many came was touching for her father. "Wow," said Felix. "I thought it was going to be a small crowd like every year but now look people are, they got the faith and hope that is coming through us, they're seeing this and this is beautiful event."

What Gina's mother urged people to do back in May was not just attend but to get their child fingerprinted. "Do everything that you can to protect them," she told the crowds and worldwide media standing outside her home.

That's all the urging many parents like Andrea Fuerst needed. She brought her daughter to be fingerprinted, photographed and swabbed as a way to make herself and her daughter, who watched the events unfold on television, feel better.

"Seeing what has happened and it made her scared so I thought this would be more empowering to her knowing that we're doing something to help her."

The crowd gathered only about a mile away from the Seymour Avenue home where three months to the day earlier the world was learning of the rescue of Gina, Michelle and Amanda. Felix DeJesus said he will be there Wednesday to watch the home come down as his daughter continues the slow healing process.

"That is going to take a while, it's going to take years so we got to be a step at a time with her," he said. "That's going to be a job for us."

Print this article Back to Top