CLEVELAND — After being held captive for nearly a decade, Gina DeJesus started the Center for Missing, Abducted and Exploited Children and Adults. Now, as they prepare to transform and renovate the building, she’s continuing to fight for the freedom of others.
Gina says, “After 9 years of me missing, I knew I wanted to give back to the city of Cleveland, so this is my way of giving back.”
Giving back is all Gina DeJesus has thought about lately. Now with her organization up and running, she’s getting to help those around Cleveland with family members missing.
“I was on the opposite side because I was held captive. So, I get to see what my mom and dad went through a little bit. This is all new to me, but I feel good because I can actually help them,” says Gina.
The current space is simple. It’s a few offices, meeting space and family room where Gina and the staff help those in need, to feel comfortable. However, in a few short weeks the complete building renovation begins, which will turn the space into a brand new center for Gina to continue giving back in.
“I’m kind of excited to see what this place is going to look like,” says Gina.
While the center continues to takes steps forward, she’s partnering again with Walk for Freedom to take literal steps around Cleveland. There’s over 600 walks going on around the world, put on by A21, which stands for abolishing slavery in the 21st century.
Locally, the walk is being put on by the Cleveland Hope Exchange at St.Ignatius High School this Saturday at 10 A.M. Everyone is dressed in black, head to toe, for the silent mile long walk, raising money and awareness to help combat human trafficking.
Megan Gallagher with the Cleveland Hope Exchange, says, “We’re so honored to have Gina DeJesus and the foundation partner with us and to bring their story to life and really show people participating in this walk, this is real and it happens right here in Cleveland.”
This is the 3rd year for the Walk for Freedom in Cleveland and Gina’s second time participating. It’s just another way she’s using her fame from something terrible that happened and turned it a way to give back.
Gina says, “It’s important to me, because human trafficking is real and it does happen. It could be in any neighborhood and that’s why it’s important.”
Walk for Freedom is hoping to raise $10,000 for A21 with every dollar going directing to rescuing and restoring victims lives. Registration at St. Ignatius begins at 9 A.M. but if you can’t make the walk, you can find other ways to participate and help by clicking here.