The survivor of a kidnapping case that made national headlines traveled to Jacksonville Wednesday to meet with a local family of a missing boy.
Gina DeJesus, Michelle Knight and Amanda Berry were rescued in 2013 after being held in captivity in a Cleveland home for almost 10 years.
The women were assaulted and endured years of horror.
“It’s very hard, the not knowing of how your child’s doing,” Gina’s father, Felix DeJesus, said. “How they’re eating, how they’re being taken care of. When are you going to find them? But never give up. Always have that hope.”
“We knew that she was still alive,” Gina’s mother Nancy Ruiz, said. “We knew we had to fight. We knew we had to bring awareness. Parents don’t ever give up.”
It’s that hope, Gina DeJesus told Action News Jax, that kept her carrying on during the years away from her family.
“Every time I’d see my parents on TV, it would give me even more hope to know one day I was going to come back home to them,” Gina DeJesus said.
Now 25 years old, Gina DeJesus said she was grateful to sit beside her parents again.
“The not knowing is what tears families apart,” Felix DeJesus said.
The DeJesus family met with Angie Campbell, the aunt of Mark Degner, who disappeared in February 2005 at the age of 12.
Mark and his friend Bryan Hayes both disappeared near Paxon Middle School and have not been found.
“Some days they are dark, but as a family we draw strength from one another,” Campbell said.
Campbell said DeJesus’ story is an inspiration.
“You hold on to that hope,” Campbell said. “You draw from that kind of hope. We choose to hold on to the hope that they will be located.”
“Keep fighting, and your kids are going to keep fighting too,” Gina DeJesus said.
The families are part of the nonprofit group BairFind, which is dedicated to finding missing children and keeping kids at home.