A lively group of more than 100 ate, drank and danced on Sunday in a Patchogue music hall with Gabby Petito in mind, raising money for a new foundation in her name their goal.
The Gabby Petito Foundation, which is being set up by the Blue Point native family, will benefit searches for other missing people and support women in abusive relationships, said the family’s attorney, Rick Stafford.
“It has taken a tragic situation and we are trying to put a good light on it,” Stafford said. “Gabby was a great and wonderful woman. She brought a smile to everyone’s face and we try to help other women who happen to be in her situation.”
Participants paid $ 20 each for admission to the collection at 89 North Music Venue on Ocean Avenue. The organizers did not give an estimate of how much money was collected from the gate as well as raffles and other sales.
Petito’s parents, who were in Wyoming over the weekend to pick up her ashes, were not seen at the event.
She and her fiancé Brian Laundrie graduates from Bayport-Blue Point High School-were on a cross-country trip this summer, which they largely documented on social media.
Petito’s mother Nicole Schmidt, from Blue Point, reported her missing to Suffolk County police on September 11 after her last hearing in late August.
Laundrie has been named a person of interest by the FBI but has evaded police since his family said he disappeared on September 13.
Petito’s body was found Sept. 19 in a Wyoming National Forest. A forensic pathologist in Wyoming determined she died of manual suffocation several weeks before she was discovered.
Her story spread nationally and worldwide as police video of Petito and Laundrie talking to officers in Utah after an apparent argument raised several questions. The ongoing effort to find the answers was in the minds of many who were otherwise in an optimistic mood on the spot.
“It brings everyone together,” said Mark Opisso of Mount Sinai, a Brookhaven National Laboratory police officer who said he worked with Gabby’s stepfather, Jim Schmidt. “No one knew Gabby at all, and now the whole world knows her.”
John Drews of Sound Beach, a family friend, said he had made 700 silicone and metal bracelets that said “Justice for Gabby”. He said 600 of the $ 10 and $ 20 bracelets had already been sold and that the proceeds benefit the fund.
“As a father with a daughter who is very similar, it really hits home,” Drews said. “And I think we all want the same thing. Justice for Gabby.”
She did not know Petito, but Katie Boodram from Oakdale felt the need to attend the fundraiser in her honor and also to show support for women who have been in abusive relationships.
“I think it’s beautiful that the whole of Long Island, especially Blue Point, Patchogue, can all come together in honor of Gabby,” she said.
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