Gathering in unity, wearing orange to raise awareness of gun violence

wear orange to end gun violence sentara rally.jpg
Posted at 12:06 PM, Jun 03, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-03 18:16:28-04

NORFOLK, Va. – Gun violence survivors, families who have lost loved ones to gun violence and medical and mental health professionals who help victims gathered outside Sentara Norfolk General Hospital and Children’s Hospital of the King’s Daughters on Friday morning.

It’s part of Wear Orange Weekend. Wear Orange is a national movement that takes place between Friday, June 3 and Sunday, June 5.

It stems from a killing in Chicago in 2013. Hadiya Pendleton was shot and killed at a playground. Soon after, her friends commemorated her life by wearing orange, the color hunters wear to protect themselves in the woods.

According to the website, more than 40,000 people are killed with guns yearly and approximately 85,000 are wounded by gunshots annually.

Sentara said that Wear Orange is about changing lifestyles in which disputes are settled with guns.

Sentara Norfolk General and CHKD are Level I trauma centers. A representative for Sentara says the number of gun violence patients has "swelled" at both hospitals in the last two years.

Through the end of May of this year, Sentara Norfolk General has treated more than 200 gunshot victims. CHKD has admitted eight pediatric gunshot victims so far this year. CHKD also reports that in 2021, they treated 34 gunshot victims and in 2020, they treated 37 children who had been shot.

Nedra Adamson's 14-year-old son Ahmaje was killed in October, 2021 while on his way to school.
"It never gets easy; however, my faith in God is what keeps me pushing, Adamson said with tears flowing. "I can’t control everything. But that’s one thing I wish I could control, beause we don’t give life, so who are we to take it away."

Both hospitals operate violence prevention programs funded by federal grants. Sentara’s is called Foresight. CHKD’s is called Safer Futures. The goal of the staff is to help the victim recover beyond the physical injury and to interrupt the cycle of gun violence.

"We are not here today to debate gun control. We are here to call for an end to gun violence and the culture, lifestyles, and behaviors which even minor slights, disputes, and disagreements are settled with guns. There is a better answer," said Liisa Ortegon, president of Sentara Norfolk General Hospital.

"Surviving a gunshot wound is not like in the movies. You just don’t get better and go home," Ortegon added. "There are often long-lasting physical and mental effects."