ST. CHARLES – Orange is the color that Hadiya Pendleton’s friends wore in her honor after she was shot and killed in Chicago at the age of 15 — just one week after performing in President Obama’s second inaugural parade in 2013.
On June 7, as part of Wear Orange weekend and on National Gun Violence Awareness Day, the Kane and Kendall County group of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, part of Everytown for Gun Safety, will host a Wear Orange play date from 10 to 11:30 a.m. in the small pavilion at Pottawatomie Park, 8 North Ave. in St. Charles.
"The whole point of wearing orange is to remember and honor those who have been lost," said Holly Blastic, who co-founded the Naperville chapter of Moms Demand Action.
While children play at the park and participate in activities, attendees will have a chance to meet Everytown Survivor Fellow Alicia Schemel. Her father was shot and killed while on his way to pick her up from work.
State Representative Karina Villa, D-West Chicago, who has been an advocate for stronger gun laws, will also be at the event along with Ellen Gibson, volunteer local group lead of the Kane and Kendall County group of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America. St. Charles Mayor Ray Rogina and Batavia Mayor Jeff Schielke are also expected to attend the event.
Blastic said it is important for people to recognize the gun violence that happens every day and not just the mass shootings that capture the national headlines, such as the recent workplace shooting at the Virginia Beach Municipal Center. Twelve people died in the shooting.
In February, a gunman shot and killed five of his co-workers at Henry Pratt Co. in Aurora and wounded five Aurora police officers.
"Hadiya Pendleton was killed just being in a park," Blastic said. "And her friends said, 'What do we have to do to be safe? Do we have to wear orange like hunters?' And that's where the idea of wearing orange came from."
She said 100 people die in the United States every day from gun violence.
"And twice as many are injured," Blastic said. "We don't want to become numb to the people who are killed and lost every single day."