Thousands Wear Orange to Honor Hadiya Pendleton and Raise Awareness on Gun Violence

By Ashleigh Fields

Thousands remembered the life and legacy of Hadiya Pendleton on June 7 by wearing orange for Hadiya Pendlet. Pendleton, a teen shot and killed in Chicago on Jan. 29, 2013, a week after performing for President Barack Obama’s second inauguration and less than a mile from his Chicago residence, is a striking reminder that gun violence hits way too close to home for many. 

“On National Gun Violence Awareness Day, we #WearOrange to honor the victims of gun violence – and commit to taking action,” Obama shared in a post on Facebook. “No one should ever have to lose a loved one simply because they went to school, or church, or the grocery store, or walked down the street.”

He added, “No other country on Earth experiences gun violence at the rate we do here in the U.S., and every day that we fail to act, we signal to the rest of the world that we are willing to live with the status quo rather than pass common sense gun safety measures that will save lives.” 

Every day, the epidemic claims approximately 600 lives across the world, according to Amnesty International. Every day, 327 people are shot in the United States. 

“We are 159 days into 2024, and there have already been nearly 200 mass shootings. On Gun Violence Awareness Day, we continue to urge legislators to act. We need universal background checks, red flag, and safe storage laws, and an assault weapons ban,” Vice President Kamala Harris posted, advocating for more awareness. “We don’t have a moment or a life to spare.”

Harris’ concerns are echoed by leaders in Cook County, specifically in the healthcare field, which serves numerous victims of gun violence daily. The office, notably the oldest comprehensive trauma unit in the country, cared for more than 340 victims of gun violence in 2023 last year.

“Gun violence is increasing across the country, and our trauma team has become far too skilled at putting bodies back together after devastating gun injuries,” Dr. Faran Bokhari, Cook County Chair of Trauma and Burn Services, mentioned.

This year, the health system was awarded a $200,000, 2-year grant by the Kaiser Permanente Center for Gun Violence Research and Education to research the impact of gun violence on women. CCH is one of 10 recipients awarded in 2024 out of more than 260 applicants.

“We understand that tackling the gun violence crisis requires a comprehensive and holistic approach,” said Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle. “Research plays a vital role in uncovering the most effective strategies to support those most affected by violence and reduce its prevalence in our communities. This grant not only supports that essential research but also empowers women who have experienced gun violence to lead and shape the solutions in an equitable way.”

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