Carey Stephenson with Ramaine Hill, who was fatally shot on Aug. 31. (handout )
Carey Stephenson felt helpless when confronted with violence plaguing the city.
She rushed Ramaine Hill's brother and cousin to Northwestern Hospital when the family received news of Hill's shooting.
Hill, 22, was shot on Aug. 31 in the 1100 block of North Orleans Street close to Seward Park in Near North. He died the next day from gunshot wounds.
"I can't change the circumstances. I can't reverse what happened. I can't take away all pain and discomfort," she said. But she wanted to help the family she had come to know through the nonprofit Chicago Lights, a tutoring and mentoring program affiliated with the Fourth Presbyterian Church.
She launched an online fundraising page for the Ramaine Hill family assistance fund on GiveForward the day before Hill’s funeral on Sept. 7. Within the first 48 hours, donations had met 40 percent of the $2,500 goal.
With hours left in the campaign on Monday, the page counted 65 donations for a total of $3,050. The money raised online will be used to help his family pay for medical costs, funeral and burial arrangements and expenses for his 2-year-old son, Ramaine Jr.
"It was very healing and therapeutic for me to coordinate something like this and financially help support the family which I knew they needed," Stephenson, an advertising executive, said.
She remembers Hill as a soft-spoken, kind man who wasn’t involved in drugs or gang life, she said. "He was really living above all that," Stephenson said.
But that life may have tracked him down. Hill's family believes the shooting was in retaliation for his cooperation with authorities in a shooting he survived two years ago.
The investigation into his killing is ongoing with no arrests, police said.
"The senseless gang violence in the great city of Chicago needs to stop. The feuding is spilling over and impacting civilians like Ramaine Hill who have NO involvement with gang activity," the fundraising page said.
The fundraiser, Stephenson said, is a way to hopefully inspire change and humanize the violence problem facing the city, a problem that shouldn't be ignored.
"I think we're so accustomed to hearing about violence in the news that maybe we're so desensitized to it," Stephenson said. "This platform helped me share Ramaine's story and bring the violence headline to so many people in a personal way."
Stephenson said she was appreciative and touched by all the donations. "I think when something tragic like this happens, you really do see the best of people come forward" and provide financial support, give condolences and say prayers, she said.
Now his family is adjusting to the new normal – a life without Hill.
"They're really working on healing. Keeping his memory and spirit alive and celebrating the memories is helping everyone heal," she said.
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