Hadiya Pendleton birthday party, vigil planned in slain teen's honor

June 2, 2013 (CHICAGO)

This time of year, many families are celebrating graduations and birthdays.

Hadiya looked forward to her sweet 16, she even tweeted about her party plans.

She did not survive to see 16, so Sunday those who loved her carried out her wish.

The celebration is genuine as are the occasional tears.

"The plan was for her to be here and for her to be here to celebrate with us," said Cleopatra Pendleton. "Instead we are celebrating without her. It's bittersweet. There's no tear without laughter."

Sunday would have been Hadiya Pendleton's 16th birthday.

She was shot and killed after school in a park. The suspect is alleged to have mistaken one of her friends as a rival.

"She was murdered in January and we're still working on a cause that's definitely because of her, so why not honor her," Cleopatra Pendleton said.

"Ever since she was a child we never planned anything," said Nathaniel Pendleton. "It just happened. Friends came over family came over. It just happened."

Some of Hadiya's friends can't help but carry their grief into their own sweet 16s.

Aleigha Mayo "I think about her all the time," said Aleigha Mayo. "Every day, especially on my birthday."

"Me and Hadiya, after she passed I didn't plan anything else," said Klyn Jones.

There are other teens missing their birthdays. Project Orange Street held a vigil at 31st Street at the lakefront Sunday night.

The teen driven organization invited those in attendance to recognize those who were killed by gun violence. Hadiya Pendleton was among those honored.

Their poetry and prayers centered on a more peaceful time when parents didn't bury their children before their sixteenth birthdays.

Blair Holt's birthday was over the weekend, too. He saw his 16t16t birthday, but was shot shielding a friend when a gunman opened fire on a bus six years ago.

Both the Holt and Pendleton families have become anti-violence advocates.

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