An estimated 200 people stopped to pay tribute in the first hour
The first fundraiser for the new Gabby Petito Foundation saw a line outside the door when it started in her Long Island hometown on Sunday afternoon.
According to staff members and volunteer doormen, an estimated 200 people stopped to pay their respects in the first hour of a planned six-hour event at 89 North, a rock venue in Patchogue, New York.
Petito’s story has touched the hearts of people across the country—many referred to the travel-blogging as the 22-year-old “America’s Daughter.” A fundraiser for a charity in his honor aimed at helping the families of other missing persons on Sunday attracted supporters ranging from local business owners to civil servants and other citizens.
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The Blue Point Fire Department, where her stepfather is a former chief, was helping with everything from food to security and door handling.
“We’re firefighters. We’re volunteers,” said assistant chief Sean Meehan. “So we’re volunteering to help a good cause.”
He described Petito as “one of our family members” and said the department would help in any way he could.
Robin McComb, who owns Frogz Saloon in nearby Ronkonkoma, attended the fundraiser with two of his employees—one of whom has a son who attends high school with Pettito.
In addition to donating $20 for the entrance, she left the same amount for a metal bracelet inscribed with “Justice for Gabby”.
Petito’s parents and step-parent’s attorney and longtime family friend Richard Stafford praised the strong performance at the start of the event.
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Her parents, who set up a foundation to help other families who had experienced it in early September, were not immediately visible at the incident.
It was scheduled for 1 to 7 pm, with four local bands booked to provide live music throughout.
More information about the Gabby Petito Foundation can be found here Website.
Petito went on a cross-country road trip with her fiancé Brian Laundry in early summer, stopping in national parks along the way and sharing updates on social media. But her family lost contact with her in late August and reported her missing on September 11.
His remains were found eight days later near the Wyoming campsite where he and Laundry were staying. In October, Teton County Coroner Dr. Brent Blue announced that an autopsy found she died of manual strangulation.
According to officials, Laundry had returned home to his parents’ Florida address on September 1. He has been named as a man of interest in Pettito’s murder and is wanted on a federal bank fraud warrant after allegedly using his debit card to withdraw more than $1,000.
His whereabouts have been unknown since at least 13 September.