Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus and Michelle Knight were on hand to receive the 2014 Ohio Courage medals for their strength and determination over the years of their ordeal.
"No one rescued them," Kasich said. "They rescued themselves. First by staying strong. Then by sticking together."
Castro held the three women captive in his home in Cleveland, often keeping them in chains and abusing them physically and sexually. They were rescued in May 2013, when Berry shouted through a locked door to get the attention of neighbors; after she broke out and called police, Knight and DeJesus were rescued from inside.
In August, Castro was sentenced to life plus 1,000 years for his crimes, but hanged himself in his cell on September 3.