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Family Friend Turns to Internet to Help Pay for Slain Man's Funeral

By DNAinfo Staff on September 27, 2013 9:17am

  Carey Stephenson, friend of slain shooting victim Ramaine Hill, started a crowdfunding campaign on Give Forward to help his family pay for his Sept. 7 funeral.
Crowdfunding Ramaine Hill's funeral
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OLD TOWN — When Ramaine Hill died after being shot near his home in what used to be Cabrini-Green, Carey Stephenson felt helpless about the loss of someone she regarded as a family member.

"I needed to do something. I felt like I needed to do something to help this family to alleviate this burden," Stephenson said. "They were already mourning and grieving. I did not want them to have the extra burden of trying to pay for his funeral."

Stephenson turned to GiveForward, a crowdfunding site aimed at helping families dealing with hardship, to raise half of the $5,000 cost for Hill's funeral and burial in a Forest Park cemetery.

As of Friday morning, the campaign received 50 donations amounting to $2,280, with 19 days left to its goal.

While Stephenson hopes the money will help the family, she also hopes the campaign will broaden awareness of low-profile shootings that happen across the city, including that of Hill, 22, who was shot to death while walking to work.

"Ramaine's fundraiser was originally established to help his family financially — which it will — but it has also proven to be an effective method of rallying people together to increase social and political awareness, and possibly inspire change," she said.

Hill was shot in his head the afternoon of Aug. 31 near Division and Orleans streets, walking to Jewel-Osco where he planned to work an early shift at the meat counter.

Hill's brother Nijajuan and cousin Robert Minor, two of Stephenson's three godsons, were at her Gold Coast home when they learned he had been shot.

"As soon as we got the call, we immediately went to the emergency room," Stephenson said.

They headed to Northwestern Memorial Hospital, the same placde Hill ended up in when he was shot the first time two years earlier.

His family members said they believe Hill was targeted in August's shooting by the same gang that shot him two years ago, targeting him because he identified the shooter in court.

Police wouldn't comment on a link between the two shootings and said Hill's slaying remains under investigation.

Joyce Taybron, Hill's aunt and former legal guardian, said she has a life insurance policy on Hill, but was told the insurance company wasn't going to pay for the funeral because the policy hadn't been in effect long enough.

Hill's Sept. 7 funeral was partially funded through Stephenson's Fourth Presbyterian Church, which runs the volunteer programs through which she met Hill's family eight years ago.

The crowdfunding campaign is just a start, Stephenson said.

Though many of the contributions came from friends and family of Stephenson and Hill, Stephenson said she didn't recognize many of the names, suggesting the campaign was having an impact on people who otherwise would ignore the city's gun violence.

"It definitely shows me that people that don't know me and people that don't know Ramaine recognize the bravery that he showed," Stephenson said. "A lot of people were able to see the injustice there. He was a completely innocent victim who was targeted."

Hill's family said they were grateful for Stephenson's efforts.

"It means everything to us," Taybron said.