Search for Amanda Berry and Gina DeJesus in Cleveland joined a city in sorrow and in joy

CLEVELAND - When you work in television news, there are certain stories that stay with you, that you think about often throughout the year -- not just at work but in your off times.

The disappearances of Gina DeJesus and Amanda Berry fall into that category. They were two of the three missing person cases I've dealt with in my career that I never forgot.

Another case involved Mark Himebaugh, an 11-year-old boy who disappeared from his South Jersey home in 1991, after traffic from a marsh fire was diverted down a road in front of his house.

Working nights at NewsChannel5, I was so very often the one to gather with Gina's family early in April each year at West 105th Street and Lorain Avenue to mark the anniversary of her disappearance. I'd then gather with many of the same people less than three weeks later -- and five blocks away -- at West 110th Street and Lorain Avenue for Amanda's.

Doing these vigils, retelling these stories, sharing these most painful and hopeless of experiences with these families you can't help but grow close. When I would see Gina's mom, Nancy Ruiz, on a story or just on the street, simple hellos no longer sufficed – you hugged.

I remember sharing with Nancy the pain felt by Maureen Himebaugh, who told me two decades earlier how she would catch herself enjoying a moment in life only to be hit with a wave of guilt. How could she enjoy even a moment when her son could be in pain?

Nancy felt that way every day and in so many she felt it twofold. Though she never met Amanda Berry, the families have grown closer in shared suffering than anyone could ever imagine.

Before Amanda's mother, Louwanna Miller, died in 2006, Gina's dad, Felix DeJesus, promised her that they would never stop looking for her daughter as they continued their search for their own.

So it came to be as we all would gather each April, the crowds for the vigils admittedly got smaller but there were always certain faces you could count on seeing: the families of both girls always there to support each other.

That's what makes this miracle ending -- as it's been dubbed -- so amazing. Just as Amanda and Gina's families were there for each, we now know so too were these girls now young women there for each other as well.

As I sit here on this day, I quietly share in the amazing joy of these families. I also can't help but feel for Maureen Himebaugh and so many mother's like her who silently and hopefully wait for their day.

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