Gov. Kasich gives Courage Award to Seymour survivors Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus & Michelle Knight

Surprise honor during OH State of the State speech

MEDINA, Ohio - It was a night built around a big speech but in the end, three women stood silently and left the crowd at Monday's Ohio State of the State speechless.

For the first time since their escape from the Seymour Avenue home where they had been held captive for a decade or longer Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus and Michelle Knight appeared publicly together to receive the state's Courage medal.

Gov. John Kasich started the award two years ago as part of his traveling State of the State address.

"Last year the world heard a story that words could barely describe. It is a story of hurt beyond anything we could imagine," said Kasich of the escape of the women on May 6, 2013 from the Cleveland home of their captor Ariel Castro.

"It is also a story of three women who found an inner strength and a courage that brought them through and sustained them. No one rescued them, they rescued themselves first by staying strong and by sticking together and then by literally breaking out into freedom."

"Three extraordinary women who despite having the worst of the world thrown at them, rose above it and emerged as victors not as victims," he said.

What followed was a two and a half minute standing ovation as the three women took the stage to receive their medals.

"I cried," said Barbara Rosier-Tryon of Trumbull County. "It was wonderful that they had the courage after what they've been through to go up there and I think the crowd was really surprised."

Consider Cleveland resident Wyatt Brownlee among the stunned.

"I'm at a loss for words," he said. "We had no idea what he was leading up to but when he unveiled it was, I mean you can't top that."

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