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Holt, Pendleton Families Mark Slain Teens’ Birthdays

Blair Holt and Hadiya Pendleton (Photos supplied to CBS)

Blair Holt and Hadiya Pendleton (Photos supplied to CBS)

Dana Kozlov Dana Kozlov
Dana Kozlov is a general assignment reporter for CBS 2 Chicago. She...
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CHICAGO (CBS) – Two families and groups of friends, two tragedies, but one goal. The families of Blair Holt — shot dead on a CTA bus six years ago at age 16 — and 15 year old Hadiya Pendleton — murdered not six months ago — held respective birthday celebrations for their lost loved ones.

Both were parties with a purpose. Both families are passionate about fighting the gun violence that killed their kids.

Hadiya’s father, Anthony Pendleton, said it’s not acceptable to do nothing; then, they would become victims.

Blair’s father, Ronald Holt said one focus of the ‘Blair Holt Peace Alliance’ is to fight for common-sense gun laws, like universal background checks, and to support others who do the same.

Hadiya’s parents also have a foundation, and her friends recently started, ‘Project Orange Tree’, aimed at fighting street violence and raising awareness about how it impacts young people.

Hadiya’s mother, Cleo Cowley-Pendleton, said members of the group wear orange buttons, the color hunters wear.

“They use the button, and the color orange as a message to say don’t shoot me,” she said.

Newly-elected Congresswoman Robin Kelly (D-IL) stopped by the Holts’ gathering to lend her support. An advocate of some gun control measures, Kelly said she told them, “I will continue to be a voice, but I cannot be a voice by myself.”

Two people have been charged in connection with Pendleton’s murder.

Michael Pace, the man convicted of killing Holt, will spend the rest of his life in prison.