ALLEGHENY COUNTY — It’s a message on the sidewalk and from a distance it appears to be just a pile of tennis shoes.

“Each pair of shoes represents our children; each mom made her own design,” Tina Ford said.

There is a set for every child killed by gun violence in our region. Ford knows the pain all too well, as his 23-year-old son Armani Ford was fatally shot in Clairton in 2019.

“It’s sad, it’s really because all those kids who flaunted shoes, they should be there. They were selfless crimes — they should all be here,” Ford said.

That’s why she’s working to draw attention to what she calls the problem by creating a growing memorial of shoes on public display.

“You can see I set it up as a visual and the way we set it up you can walk through the shoes so you’re just walking through the shoes reading the posts and a lady that ‘She started tearing up and staring at her son and the shoes,’ Ford said.

This year alone, Allegheny County said 66 people were murdered. Ford told Channel 11 that number was too high. While she can’t change her son’s fate, she wants to use her memory to show people and lawmakers that she won’t stop fighting until people lay down their guns.

“We could just sit and suffer in our grief, but I told the ladies that we have to carry on because the message for the shoes is that where our children’s footprints end is where we let’s get started,” Ford said.

Ford plans to continue bringing the shoes to events across the city, but she also hopes to involve more parents who have lost their children to gun violence and take this memorial to Harrisburg and Washington, DC.

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