Jennifer Garner is reflecting on the heroes she helped honor on Wednesday night.
Garner presented the Arthur Ashe Courage Award at the 2018 ESPY Awards to over 100 women who were sexually abused by former Michigan State and USA Gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar.
Sharing three panoramic photographs of the powerful moment when the survivors filled the stage to a standing ovation, Garner wrote, “This is a picture of an army. An army of strength. An army for right. Here are 147 survivors of the unspeakable abuses committed by Dr. Larry Nassar — I was humbled to present them with the #ArthurAsheAward for Courage at tonight’s #ESPYAwards.”
Garner continued, “Seeing these heroes in one place, on one stage blew me away — it takes such courage and strength to tell their stories. Sunlight is the best antiseptic — thank you to the survivors, to Jimmy Pitaro and to @abcnetwork & @espn for putting sexual abuse of minors in the sun — hopefully we won’t be telling this story again.”
During the ceremony at the Microsoft Theater, Aly Raisman, Sarah Klein, and Tiffany Thomas Lopez delivered rousing speeches on behalf of all of the women onstage. Gymnasts in attendance also included Jordyn Wieber and Maggie Nichols.
Raisman, who began her speech by listing the years in which the women revealed Nassar’s abuse and were ignored, noted, “To all the survivors out there, don’t let anyone rewrite your story. Your truth does matter, you matter, and you are not alone. We all face hardships. If we choose to listen and we choose to act with empathy, we can draw strength from each other.”
Judge Rosemarie Aquilina, who allowed victims to address Nassar in court and sentenced the disgraced doctor to up to 175 years in prison, was also in attendance at the ESPYs.
Raisman thanked Aquilina during the awards show “for honoring our voices.”
“For too long, we were ignored, and you helped us to rediscover the power we each possess,” Raisman said. “You may never meet the hundreds of children you saved, but know they exist.”
Before closing their group acceptance speech, Raisman had a powerful message for other survivors.
“We may suffer alone,” she said, “but we survive together.”