legacy gabby petito foundation donates 100000 for domestic violence
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Legacy: Gabby Petito Foundation donates $100,000 for domestic violence

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A year after her death, the foundation in her name established by her family donated $100,000 to the National Domestic Violence Hotline, SafeSpace and The AWARE Foundation Inc.

The donation from the Gabby Petito Foundation will decrease wait times for victims who call the hotline and expand the “Hope Can’t Wait” initiative.

Thousands of Americans, mostly women, call the hotline every year seeking help to escape physically and emotionally abusive relationships.

“I think Gabby’s story touched a lot of people,” her mother, Nichole Schmidt, said. “She’s saving lives. Knowing that she might have been put on hold and lost the opportunity to get to a safe place, that’s what drives me to continue to work with these organizations.”

Petito, 22, made national headlines and views on social media in August 2021 when she disappeared while on a cross-country trip with her fiancé, Brian Laundrie. Laundrie was determined a person of interest in the investigation after he returned home to Florida without Petito. He disappeared September 17.

Petito’s body was found Sept. 19 at Bridger-Teton National Forest in Wyoming. An autopsy revealed cause of death as manual strangulation. Laundrie’s body was found Oct. 20 in Florida. He died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head. Later, the FBI announced that he admitted in a notebook to killing Petito.

Rebecca Barnabi

Rebecca J. Barnabi is the national editor of Augusta Free Press. A graduate of the University of Mary Washington, she began her journalism career at The Fredericksburg Free-Lance Star. In 2013, she was awarded first place for feature writing in the Maryland, Delaware, District of Columbia Awards Program, and was honored by the Virginia School Boards Association’s 2019 Media Honor Roll Program for her coverage of Waynesboro Schools. Her background in newspapers includes writing about features, local government, education and the arts.