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MELROSE PARK, Ill. (CBS) — Gyovanny Arzuaga and Yasmin Perez lost their lives in a violent, high-profile shooting back during Puerto Rican Parade celebrations in Humboldt Park back in June.
But beyond that headline are two children left without their mother and father.
Their surviving family is working tirelessly to give them what they’ll need to walk this hard road now and in the future. On Thursday night, CBS 2’s Marie Saavedra shared their request for your help to do it.
“Prior to June 19th, I think our lives were like this,” said Cherise Schaffner as she gestured with her hands and flipped them around, “and now it just feels like it’s been completely flipped upside down.”
Schaffner started out stoic when speaking of the loss of her niece Peres, and that day in Humboldt Park she and boyfriend Arzuaga were shot.
But hiding the pain becomes impossible when she speaks of whom they left behind.
“It’s been hard,” Schaffner said before breaking down.
On June 19, Arzuaga and Perez were the victims of a horrific shooting on Division Street near Spaulding Avenue that was described as being execution-style – and which all stemmed from a minor traffic accident.
They left behind son Jayden, just 1 year old. His big sister, Sofiya, is 5.
“She has this stuffed animal that was given to her mom in the hospital, and she called that stuffed animal ‘Mommy’ and she takes that stuffed animal everywhere with her,” Schaffner said. “It’s like her last piece of her mom that she can keep with her.”
In the weeks after the shooting, the family put everything toward the children. Early donations helped make repairs in the couple’s house, so the kids could return and regain normalcy back in their own space.
Then came Sofiya’s first day of kindergarten, without her parents.
“The difficulty lies with staying on course, and making sure that, you know, the kids stay well-adjusted through their whole life,” Schaffner said.
Keeping that promise requires resources.
“My first instinct was OK, let’s do something,” said family friend Mackie Campillo.
Campillo aims to contribute. The DJ planned a fundraiser on Saturday at Journeys Bar & Grill, at 11220 W. Grand Ave. in Melrose Park.
“You try to do stuff with the right intentions and just make sure that they’re looked out for,” Campillo said.
The focus is not on how these children got here. It’s on how they can feel supported and thrive, in spite of it.
“That’s kind of where we’re at as a family too,” Schaffner said. “We just kind of want to move forward.”
It is what the children’s mom and dad would have wanted.
In addition to the fundraiser in Melrose Park, a GoFundMe has also been set up for the family.
Source: CBS Chicago