Family Celebrates Hadiya Pendleton's Sweet 16

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Sunday would have been Hadiya Pendleton's 16th birthday, but a stray bullet ended her life earlier this year. Gun violence also took Blair Holt's life six years ago. This weekend their families honors their lives and legacies.

    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.

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    [CHI] Hadiya Pendleton Murder Suspects Plead Not Guilty
    Michael Ward, 18, and Kenneth Williams, 20, are charged with first-degree murder in the death of the honors student who attended President Barack Obama's second inaugural just days before her death.

    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.

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    [CHI] AUDIO: 911 Calls on Hadiya Pendelton
    NBC Chicago FOIA'd the Chicago Police department for audio from 911 calls on the day Hadiya Pendleton was killed in Chicago. Here is a sample of some of the calls.

    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.