Family and friends gathered Sunday night to celebrate what would have been the 16th birthday of Hadiya Pendleton, who was fatally shot in January.
Pendleton’s death made national headlines after the young teen, who had just returned from performing at the President’s inauguration, and was gunned down nearly a mile from Obama’s Kenwood home.
Sunday marked Pendleton’s 16th birthday.
Though the young teen didn’t survive to see her sweet 16, those who loved her said her spirit was at the celebration.
“Just the joy that came over everybody at the same time singing happy birthday… she was there,” said her mother Cleopatra Pendleton.
The group gathered in Pendleton’s honor singing “happy birthday” and releasing balloons into the sky.
“It’s obvious that something horrible has happened to our family and to our friends and to our loved ones, however, her life was bigger than, you know, a sad moment,” Cleopatra Pendleton said.
And Pendleton’s was just one of many birthdays being missed in the city.
Project Orange joined the celebrators to help raise awareness and keep teens like Pendleton safe. They handed out orange buttons they say will help shooters think twice.
“It’s a warning to say ‘Hey, don’t shoot me,’” said a project member. “It’s a loud color.”
Another family in the city also gathered Sunday, marking the sixth anniversary of young Blair Holt’s death.
Holt was shot shielding a friend when a man opened fire on a bus six years ago and his family gathers each year to remember his untimely death.
One thing both families have in common is their strive to stop the violence.