SURFSIDE BEACH, SC (WBTW) — Children who have lost family members to gun violence gathered Thursday to share their experiences.
Mothers Against Violence hosted an annual event at Wild Water and Wheels for children. The organization was founded by Elizabeth Bowens, whose son, Tony Hemmingway, was shot and killed working as a security guard at a nightclub in Myrtle Beach.
Bowens attended three different therapy sessions, which she said weren’t effective for her.
Subsequently, she created a group to connect families together who endured the same pain to build a community.
Many of the children who were present at the water park played kickball with 21-year-old Charles Hemmingway a few days before he was shot and killed 2019 in Conway. His mother, Gwendolyn Moody, knew the impact her son had in the community.
“They don’t know the pain that they caused, not just for me but for everybody that knew CJ, ” Moody said.
Loretta Smalls’ 36-year-old son, Tyrese Smalls, was murdered in 2016 in Myrtle Beach. Smalls said she has not been the same since.
“I cry all the time,” Smalls said. “I drink my tears for water many days and many nights.”
The organization has functions throughout the year that cater to adults and children to uplift, inspire and console each other.
Bowens’ next goal is for South Carolina parents whose children were murdered to gather and confront Congress about changing gun laws.