Since the day my little brother, Jose Webster, was born, we celebrated our birthdays together. His birthday was September 5 and mine was September 6. Every year we would have a birthday party; although there would be two cakes, my brother always seemed to blow out my candles. At the time I did not know how much I would cherish those moments.
On September 15, 2011, 10 days after his 16th birthday, Jose was shot 15 times by two men on the street while walking his girlfriend home. The paramedics did what they could, but Jose died four blocks from our home.
Every year on my birthday I struggle to balance the happiness of turning a year older and the pain of my brother’s life being cut short. I became an advocate so fewer people will have to experience the pain my family still feels — every. single. day. I don’t tell my story to get sympathy. I do it so that everyone understands the impact of gun violence in this country — not only on survivors like me but on all American communities.