Gabby Petito's Mother Makes $100,000 Donation to Combat Domestic Violence

Nichole Schmidt said her daughter Gabby Petito "touched the world"

Gabby Petito
Gabby Petito. Photo: Gabby Petito Instagram

The mother of Gabby Petito is channeling her grief into advocacy — and hoping to help others escape from domestic violence.

On Thursday, Nichole Schmidt announced that The Gabby Petito Foundation would make a $100,000 donation to the National Domestic Violence Hotline as part of the organization's "Hope Can't Wait" initiative.

The intent: to give other victims the resources to protect themselves and escape violent relationships.

"We're trying to do good for Gabby, and for everybody else," Schmidt told NBC's Today. "Our story begins because of domestic violence tragedy, and we don't want to see that happen to anybody else."

Schmidt learned that her daughter was in an abusive relationship in 2021, after Petito and her boyfriend, Brian Laundrie spent the summer traveling across the country in a white van together, documenting their adventures on YouTube along the way.

Soon, Petito stopped responding to messages. On Sept. 1, Laundrie quietly returned to his parents' home in North Port, Fla., with their van but without Petito. Ten days later, Schmidt reported her daughter missing.

Nichole Schmidt, mother of Gabby Petito, whose death on a cross-country trip has sparked a manhunt for her boyfriend Brian Laundrie, speaks alongside, from left, Tara Petito, stepmother, Jim Schmidt, stepfather, and Joseph Petito, father, during a news conference, Tuesday, Sept. 28, 2021, in Bohemia, N.Y. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)
Gabby Petito's parents and stepparents at a press conference in September 2021. AP Photo/John Minchillo

On Sept. 19, Petito's body was discovered in Grand Teton National Park. Her death was declared a homicide by the county coroner shortly after, and on Oct. 12, it was revealed that she died from strangulation.

Days after Petito's body was discovered, the U.S. District Court of Wyoming issued a warrant for Laundrie's arrest in relation to activities that occurred after Petito's death — not for her death itself.

Laundrie was never arrested on the Wyoming charges or charged with the disappearance and murder of Petito. On Oct. 20, his remains were discovered in a Florida nature park alongside his backpack and notebook. He had killed himself and left behind a confession about killing Petito.

While Schmidt and the rest of Petito's family have been devastated by their loss, they also intend to make an impact on other people

"She touched the world, right?" Schmidt told Today. "This whole tragedy that happened is for a higher purpose. That's what keeps me going."

If you are experiencing domestic violence, call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233, or go to thehotline.org. All calls are toll-free and confidential. The hotline is available 24/7 in more than 170 languages.

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