PATCHOGUE, NY — Hundreds came out Sunday to the Gabby Petito Foundation’s first fundraiser aimed at helping families whose loved ones are missing and may have been victims of domestic violence.
Organizers said they raised more than $10,000 in honor of Petito, whose body was found in a national park after desperate searches for the missing woman. Co-organizer Steve Campo said Sunday’s fundraiser was the first of many to come.
“Just like everybody, we could see the suffering that is going on,” Campo said. “We wanted to bring the community together and show the family some support.”
State Assemblymember Jody Giglio described the organization’s mission as a really important cause.
“We all miss her and everyone here is celebrating her life,” Giglio said.
Petito, 22, died three to four weeks before her body was found Sept. 19 near an undeveloped camping area along the border of Grand Teton National Park in remote northern Wyoming, Teton County Coroner Dr. Brent Blue said.
She had been on a cross-country trip with Brian Laundrie, visiting Colorado, Utah and other states. She was reported missing Sept. 11 by her parents after she did not respond to calls and texts for several days while the couple visited national parks in the West.
Petito and Laundrie posted online about their trip in a white Ford Transit van converted into a camper. They got into a physical altercation Aug. 12 in Moab, Utah, that led to a police stop, which ended with police deciding to separate the quarreling couple for the night. No charges were filed, and no serious injuries were reported.
Petito’s father posted on social media over the weekend that his 22-year-old daughter’s ashes had been scattered at Grand Teton National Park.
Many attendees at Sunday’s fundraiser knew Petito. She used to work at Tami Gallagher’s yoga camp and babysat the woman’s 10-year-old son.
“She was just a bright light: always smiling, extremely creative and artistic,” Gallagher said about Petito “She was just a warm, happy, fun loving young lady.”