Celebrating Gabby Petito in Patchogue – a foundation to help others on her behalf
A lively group of more than 100 ate, drank and danced at a Patchogue music hall on Sunday with Gabby Petito leading the way and raised money for a new foundation in his name.
The Gabby Petito Foundation, which is being set up by the family of the Blue Point native, will benefit searches for other missing persons and support women in abusive relationships, the family’s lawyer said, Rick Stafford.
“It took a tragic situation and we’re trying to shed a good light on it,” Stafford said. “Gabby was a great and wonderful woman. She made everyone smile and we are trying to help other women who are in her situation.”
Participants paid $ 20 each to participate in the fundraiser at 89 North Music Venue on Ocean Avenue. The organizers did not provide an estimate of the amount of money raised by the gate as well as raffles and other sales.
Petito’s parents, who were in Wyoming this weekend to collect his ashes, were not spotted at the event.
She and her fiance Brian Laundrie – graduates of Bayport-Blue Point High School – were traveling across the country this summer which they have documented extensively on social media.
Petito’s mother, Nicole Schmidt, of Blue Point, reported her disappearance to Suffolk County Police on September 11 following news of her in late August.
Laundrie has been named as a person of interest by the FBI, but has eluded police since his family said he was missing on September 13.
Petito’s body was found on September 19 in a Wyoming national forest. A Wyoming coroner determined that she died of manual strangulation several weeks before her discovery.
His story spread nationally and globally as police video showing Petito and Laundrie speaking with officers in Utah after an apparent argument raised more questions. The continued effort to find the answers was on the minds of many who were otherwise in an upbeat mood on the site.
“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 and now the whole world knows her.”
John Drews of Sound Beach, a family friend, said he had 700 silicone and metal bracelets made with the words “Justice for Gabby” made. He said 600 of the $ 10 and $ 20 bracelets have already been sold with the proceeds going to the foundation.
“As a father with a daughter of the same age, it really touches me,” Drews said. “And I think we all want the same thing. Justice for Gabby.”
She didn’t know Petito, but Katie Boodram of Oakdale felt the need to attend the fundraiser in his honor and also show her support for women who have been in abusive relationships.
“I think it’s beautiful that all of Long Island, especially Blue Point, Patchogue, can all come together in Gabby’s honor,” she said.