INDIANAPOLIS — A line of shoes, more than 200 pairs, one for each life lost to violence in Indianapolis this year, lined the sidewalk of Him by Her Collegiate School for the Arts on East 32nd Street where families of murder victims gathered to celebrate Christmas.
In a room full of broken hearts, children received books and other gifts, decorated cookies and sat with Santa Claus as DeAndra Dycus of Purpose 4 My Pain held her seventh annual Christmas celebration Sunday so that other mothers whose families have been touched by violence would not be forgotten or alone this holiday season.
”It’s a club you don’t want to be in but we all have to be there for each other and to support each other,” said Cathy Mann. ” It’s heartbreaking at times. Just tonight I was sitting down with a mom who just lost her child two months ago and she was sitting right next to me and she just started crying.”
Trevon Mann was murdered in January 2018.
This year marks Cathy’s fifth Christmas without her son.
”For me, I still go out and buy Trevon a gift every year,” she said. “If it’s nothing but a t-shirt, a pair of socks, a pack of boxers or something, so I actually have a box that has five Christmases in there for all the times he’s been gone.”
Cathy said IMPD detectives and the community know who killed her son and why, though arrests remain elusive.
”Unfortunately, some of us moms, our cases are connected, and you don’t know that unless you’re sitting down and talking about it,” she said. ”We gotta stop protecting our kids when we know they do wrong. As much as we love our kids we have to make them accountable for their actions, for their wrongdoing.”
The teenage killer of two of Antonia Bailey’s three children, Ashlynn, 15, and Nicholas, 16, one morning before school in the summer of 2019 will spend decades in prison before he is freed to spend Christmas with his family.
“The love that I have, I’m not used to giving it to only one person, so, I find ways to spread it out to the community by loving on every single person that I come in contact with, making sure that people have a Christmas because it’s hard for families right now,” Antonia said. ”That void is still there. That hurt is still there. I still wake up crying because of the pain and reliving that day. I’m hoping that I can help make these families’ lives a little bit easier and their journey a little bit easier and hopefully one day limit how many children in families that we have to lose to gun violence.”
For the third year in a row, Antonia will honor her children with a Christmas celebration for other families touched by violence from 5 to 7 p.m. Friday at CAFÉ on East 38th Street.
Families who have suffered violence can attend by registering here.
As she prepares for the fourth Christmas without her children, Antonia said she imagines how they would react to her holiday commitment to other grieving families.
”My goal is that they’re looking down at me and going, ‘Yeah, that’s my mom right there.’ That’s my goal. I hope I’m making them proud.”