CHICAGO (WLS) --January 29 marks the third anniversary of the tragic death of Hadiya Pendleton, the 15-year-old girl who was shot and killed just one week after returning from performing in Washington at President Obama's second inauguration.
Hadiya's father, Nate Pendleton, said that the day his daughter was killed in 2013 was the worst day of his life. Now, he's chosen to open a new restaurant on the third anniversary of her death.
"I just wanted to try to shine a bright light to an extent on it, to say that we're not stopping, we're not giving up, we're going to keep moving forward," he said.
Dozens of purple and white balloons drifted into the night sky Friday as family and friends of Hadiya Pendleton released the balloons to honor her memory.
"It does not get any easier as the days go along. It doesn't," said Cleo Pendleton, Hadiya's mother.
"The wound is still open. It'll never close. The only thing you can do is just learn to deal with the pain," Nate Pendleton said.
Hadiya was killed in a random act of violence when the shooter fired into a crowd of teens, apparently intent on settling some gang dispute.
Many of those who gathered to remember Hadiya are working to try to curb the violence, but it's a losing battle. So far this month, there have already been more than 40 fatal shootings in Chicago, with a full weekend still to go. By comparison, there were only 36 homicides in Chicago in January of last year.
Activists here say the solution lies within.
"It's not a police issue. It's not a mayor's issue. This is a community issue because the people that are pulling the triggers are our own families," activist Andrew Holmes said.
The Pendletons and other activists said they are frustrated by the increase in shootings, but said it only means they need to work harder to stop the violence.