'Party for Peace' on Hadiya Pendleton's 18th birthday

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Two years after she was gunned down at a Chicago park, friends and family are celebrating Hadiya Pendleton's 18th birthday with an anti-violence awareness campaign.

The honor student was killed less than a mile from Barack Obama's house just days after she performed at the president's inauguration in Washington D.C.

Her friends started Project Orange Tree to try to stop gun violence. To mark her birthday, they're holding a Party for Peace at Harold Washington Park.

"We didn't want to be the next victim of Chicago's gun violence. We didn't want to be the target," said Nza-Ari Khepra, Project Orange Tree Organizer.

Orange is a color that protects hunters. For Pendleton's friends, orange is to protect their generation. And they've inspired the first National Gun Violence Awareness Day.

"I'm very excited about all of the attention it's getting because I know, for one, that awareness is definitely the first step. I wouldn't be here today if I wasn't aware of the problem," Khepra said.

Tuesday would be Pendleton's 18th birthday. Her parents will be part the event for their daughter and the other sons and daughters who have yet to find their way.

"We find a way to cope throughout the day but it's horrible to live," said Cleopatra Cowley-Pendleton, Hadiya's mother.

Pendleton's parents have taken up the cause, even participating in a video.

"It's time we show them we love them and we want them to do better. We want them to be part of society in a positive way," said Nathaniel Pendleton, Hadiya's father.

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