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Michelle Obama invites slain girl's mom and brother to White House event

— First lady Michelle Obama has invited the mother and 10-year-old brother of Hadiya Pendleton, the Chicago teen slain in January soon after taking part in inauguration festivities, to attend the White House Easter egg roll, the mother said.

"I just can't wait to see the look on my son's face," Cleopatra Cowley-Pendleton told the Tribune, saying she and her son, Nathaniel Pendleton Jr., had accepted.

"It will be great to see him smile somewhere — it will be an awesome experience," she added. "He's what I got left. So I just can't wait to see what he thinks of it. All these experiences are helping make him into the young man he's going to be."

Hadiya, a 15-year-old honor student, was fatally shot Jan. 29 in a North Kenwood park not far from the Obama family home. Two men were charged last month with murder.

Michelle Obama attended Hadiya's funeral in Chicago and later hosted Cowley-Pendleton and the teen's father, Nathaniel Pendleton Sr., as guests at the State of the Union speech on Feb. 12. The invitation to the April 1 egg roll was extended then, Cowley-Pendleton said.

"It was sincere. It was just nice," the mother said. "I have an amazing amount of respect for Mrs. Obama, I do. She didn't have to reach out to me, and she did, and she did it not as a first lady, she did it as a mother.

"When your child is taken, and is so young, it's inexplainable, so gestures of kindness mean a lot. Just for her to extend herself is amazing. She's been very personable, approachable and social."

The two women had never met until the funeral, she said.

Now she's figuring out who will come along. She'd like to bring several children and other relatives, but she's not sure her husband can make it.

kskiba@tribune.com

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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