Family, friends wear orange to honor life of Hadiya Pendleton, gun violence victims

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Thursday marked a day that Nate and Cleopatra Pendleton should have been celebrating the 19th birthday of their daughter, Hadiya. Instead, they gathered in Harold Washington Playlot Park with other families who are victims of gun violence to call for change.

They were also wearing bright orange as part of the 'Wear Orange' movement designed to draw attention to senseless gun violence.

On January 29, 2013, 15-year-old Hadiya Pendleton was gunned down in a park in Chicago’s Kenwood neighborhood.

“This is a day to celebrate something wonderful about your loved ones, not the way that they left,” said Cleopatra Cowley-Pendleton, Hadiya's mother.

Other mothers who shared their loss of a loved one held up signs to remember them. Among them, Delphine Cherry, whose daughter Tyesa was killed by a stray bullet in 1992. Then, another senseless shooting took her son, Tyler.

“2012, December, three days before Christmas my son was shot down in front of my home, and his murder is still unsolved,” Cherry said. She believes there needs to be stronger guns laws.

“It's easier for me to get a gun than it is for me to go get my driver's license, and that's crazy,” Cherry said.

The 'Wear Orange' movement was inspired by classmates of Hadiya Pendleton. Among them is Nza-Ari Khepra,  who's frustrated by Chicago's continuing cycle of violence.

“It's completely devastating to see that we're continuing to have this problem, that it's not like something that's just happened for a little while and we solved it, but I think that it really shows how much work we need to put forward,” Khepra said.

The second annual 'Party for Peace' serves as a way to draw attention to National Gun Violence Awareness Day. For those who have experienced the impact, there's a continuing ripple effect. The Pendleton's 13-year-old son Nathanial joined them Thursday.

“There is a level of suffering that's bigger than seeing the parents of a murdered child. You have no idea what we have to go through with our child. And we're not the only people who've been affected by gun violence that are experiencing the same thing. It is an epidemic that needs to stop and it needs to stop now,” said Cleopatra Cowley- Pendleton.