Festival goers got to see Amanda Berry flash a huge smile on Saturday when she made her first public appearance at Cleveland’s RoverFest, featuring rapper Nelly. Introduced to loud applause by a radio talk show host, Berry was later invited on stage by the singer, who dedicated a song to the woman who kicked out part of a door and called to neighbors for help in order to escape from the captor who held her, Gina DeJesus and Michelle Knight prisoner for ten years.
“I can’t even imagine the type of strength and the type of courage that it took … to keep it going,” Nelly told Berry as she stood with a friend on stage. “For that again I commend you, and I say thank you.” Berry then danced near Nelly as he sang his 2010 hit Just a Dream.
Shane French, who hosts a talk radio show called Rover’s Morning Glory, told the Associated Press that he had issued an informal on-air invitation to Berry to attend RoverFest, but was surprised when she actually showed up. “I just said that she had 10 years of partying to make up for and she should come,” French said.
Berry’s public debut came a day after Castro pleaded guilty in a deal that will keep him in prison for the rest of his life plus 1,000 years and with no possibility of parole, but allowed him to avoid the death penalty. Castro, a former school bus driver, pleaded guilty to 937 counts including hundreds of counts of kidnapping and rape, plus assault and other counts. Berry and her co-captives didn’t attend the court proceeding, but said in a statement that they were relieved by the conviction. The women made video statements earlier this month, but otherwise have not given interviews or appeared in public.