Editor’s note: Four years ago, on May 6, 2013, three women were found trapped in a Cleveland home, where they had been for years. One of those kidnapping survivors, Amanda Berry, has since become an advocate for other missing persons cases — which she details below. This story was originally published on Feb. 7.
During the decade Amanda Berry was held captive in a Cleveland home, her abductor allowed her to watch the news. On the anniversary of the day she vanished, she’d watch journalists interview her family, who never gave up searching for her.
Now Berry is going in front of the camera on behalf of others, hosting a 30-second daily news segment on Cleveland’s Fox 8 dedicated to missing people in the northeast Ohio area.
“I hope we get [the faces of] missing people out there and get people looking at them a second time, a third time, and looking at their name,” Berry tells PEOPLE in an exclusive interview. “It’s kind of the small things that makes a big difference.”
As she knows, it’s easy to feel hopeless, but it’s important to never give up — even if it has been years.
“One of the girls we featured this week, she has been gone for 30 years, since 1977. It has really stuck with me. I just keeping thinking about that over and over,” Berry says. “Then you think of Jaycee Dugard, who was gone for so long. After so long, you just give up that hope. Is her family still thinking if she’s out there? What is possibly going through their minds?”
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There are likely few people who understand better than Berry the struggle of vanishing: She went missing at age 16, on April 21, 2003, after she called her sister to say she was getting a ride home from her job at a Burger King.
Ten years later, on May 6, 2013, Berry and two other young women, Gina DeJesus and Michelle Knight, were rescued after being held captive by Ariel Castro in his home. (Castro later killed himself in prison after being sentenced to life for his crimes.)
Berry wants people to know someone is still searching for them.
“Some of these kids that are out there now, if they don’t have a family that’s missed them, or maybe people have given up hope and they don’t know where to turn now — now we have this,” she says. “Hopefully they feel like they can keep the hope and keep searching.”
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Fox 8’s news director Andy Fishman says the station had been airing a segment on missing people before Berry joined as host, but it was actually started after she and the others were rescued. In its first year, 237 people were featured. Of those, 175 were found.
“[Berry] feels very strongly about trying to do something positive,” Fishman tells PEOPLE. “She wants to offer hope to families that are in a similar situation to what her family was going through.”
Fishman says Berry’s first segment was shared 2,000 times, and she is excited that the public is watching and spreading the information on social media: That’s 2,000 more times that someone hears a missing person’s name and sees their photo.
“I feel like I have a deeper purpose,” Berry says. “I feel like I can help.”