First fundraiser held for Gabby Petito Foundation

NEW YORK (NewsNation Now) — Gabby Petito’s family is turning their pain into an opportunity to help other families searching for missing loved ones.

Late last month, Petito’s father Joseph created a foundation in his late daughter’s name, saying on Twitter that, “We are looking to help people in similar situations as Gabby.”

The foundation held its first official fundraiser in Patchogue, New York, on Sunday, just days after after the elder Petito claimed his daughter’s body in Wyoming.

Organizers said around 200 people attended the event, raising nearly $14,000. More money was also expected to be collected online.

Meanwhile, Brian Laundrie, who has been missing since mid-September, remains a person of interest in Petito’s homicide.

Protesters demanding a response from the Laundries and those wishing to pay their respects to Gabby Petito continue to gather outside his parents’ house in Florida.

Dan Banklayder of Punta Gorda just passed through for the first time Sunday.

“Gabby could be my daughter,” Banklayder said. “I’ve got two daughters. She could be anybody’s daughter … She really has shined the light on all of the daughters around America, whether white, black, indigenous, Hispanic, who are missing, or abused or murdered. And, you know, I hope that we can get justice for all of them.”

Petito’s body was found outside Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming on Sept. 19, and was identified two days later. Coroner Dr. Brent Blue said Petito was strangled to death and her body was left outdoors for three to four weeks before she was found.

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