Seated center stage, Monday night Sarah Shourd recanted her story in front of a captive audience. She was held prisoner in Iran for 14 and a half months along with fiance Shane Bauer and her friend Josh Fattal.
It was the same story author Katie Crouch heard two months ago and was moved.
"I actually don't know Sarah personally, but I heard her story on NPR and she did such a great job of talking about her story and her plight that I decided to get involved and organize this event," said Crouch.
The event was dubbed "Free All Three" and was a fundraiser to bring other Bay Area best-selling authors and friends together to help support and raise funds to pay ongoing legal fees for the families of the three imprisoned UC Berkeley graduates.
"The toll this has taken on our families is real. It is something that I was protected from when I was in prison. They didn't want us to know about it and as soon as I got out, it's been one of the most difficult things for me to see," said Shourd.
The event was held at the Verdi Club in San Francisco. Johanna Silver studied abroad with Fattal.
"Everyone I know has donated something. I've donated my gardening services, this is a bowl from a friend's mom. A friend that studied abroad with us, we're just all excited to do whatever we can to bring home these two innocent people," said Silver.
Local author Andrew Sean Greer -- who entertained the crowd with a lively reading -- believes more needs to be done to secure the release of Bauer and Fattal.
"What's been surprising is that people, because of this event, have come out and here I am talking to you. And that's the most important thing, more than raising money is raising some kind of awareness," says Sean Greer.
Bauer, Fattal and Shourd were arrested in July of last year while hiking near the Iran-Iraq border. Shourd was released in September for health reasons. The Oakland Tribune says their families are in need of financial help because of legal fees, travel expenses and other needs.
Several family members also lost or quit their jobs as they dedicated themselves to fighting for the freedom of their loved ones.