Walkers remember Jan. 8 under clear blue skies
Hundreds turned out to commemorate Jan. 8 at the "Each One Take One Stroll and Roll" at the Christina-Taylor Green Memorial River Park on the Northwest Side on Saturday morning.
While the morning air held a slight chill, blue skies and warm sunlight greeted those who showed up to walk the 3-mile path in the park — as did the ever-energetic Susie Hileman.
"I'm surrounded by love on this beautiful day," she said as she tried to speak with each person arriving at the event.
"I've got an in with heaven," she said, explaining the weather.
Hileman was shot on Jan. 8, as she tried to protect her neighbor, Christina-Taylor Green, a nine-year-old who wanted to meet her congresswoman. Green was killed in the shooting spree at U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords' "Congress On Your Corner" meet-and-greet.
"You don't think she's here? She's here," Hileman said, speaking of Green.
By 10 a.m., some 200 people were walking the park's paved loop, some jogging, some strolling contemplatively.
Volunteers handed out pieces of colored chalk, and people drew hearts and suns, and wrote messages on the path.
"Hug someone here!" was written, with a spot in the middle of the path indicated. Another chalk message quoted U2: "It's a beautiful day, don't let it slip away."
"Christina-Taylor Green, we love you," said another message.
The event was billed on the BEYOND website as an encouragement to "GET MOVING and MOVE BEYOND...."
"Being stuck in the past doesn't make things better," Hileman said with a bit of a hitch in her voice.
"There's a hole in my life where she was," she said.