PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD) – Hundreds of survivors of violent crime took a trip to Springfield Thursday morning.

The groups united at the State Capitol calling on lawmakers to take action and provide more support for families impacted by crime.

Dozens of those survivors also boarded a bus from Peoria and were brought together through similar tragic circumstances such as gun violence.

“I lost two sons to gun violence, Reginald and Desmun,” Pastor Clara Underwood-Forman, said.

Underwood-Forman credits the loss of her two sons as the driving force behind her fight against gun violence.

“We have an opportunity to let our voices be heard, we have an opportunity to talk with legislators,” Underwood-Forman said.

She said they’re calling on lawmakers to expand employment protections for survivors in the aftermath of crime. She also said they’re pushing for legislation to fund counties that are willing to implement different programs as an alternative instead of going to prison.

Underwood-Forman said they’re also looking for other reforms to support grieving families and break the cycle of crime.

“It’s very important to me to make sure that other families don’t have to deal with, we that have already experienced that, they don’t have to deal with that,” Underwood-Forman said. “And so if we can do anything that can prevent that then I’m all in.”

Thursday was also the first time for Peorian Rachel Parker to travel to the State Capitol for the Survivors Speak Illinois event. She said it’s also coming up on the third anniversary of her son’s, Ryan Greenwood’s, unsolved murder.

“I’m just hoping every day that somebody will find the courage in themselves to speak up and speak out about what they saw that night because somebody out there knows,” Parker said. “It’s just a shame that there’s a lot of unsolved murders here in Peoria that people are not speaking up [about] and it’s not right and I don’t know how they can sleep at night, honestly.”

She said she is trying to find her place in helping the movement alongside those who understand the loss.

“You want to talk about it sometimes but you’re kind of apprehensive because you don’t want people to think “oh, well she talks about that all the time” but it’s always on your mind,” Parker said. “You can’t let that go and so being with other people that have gone through that, you feel more comfortable with sharing how you feel and they understand.”

“That gives me some comfort knowing that I’m surrounded by people that really have those same feelings that I have and sometimes can’t express them when they want to,” Parker said.