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Gabby Petito’s parents start foundation to counter domestic violence, find missing persons

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(NEW YORK) -- Gabby Petito's parents and stepparents have established a foundation in her name aimed at fighting domestic violence and finding missing people.

The 22-year-old Petito went missing during a cross-country trip with her boyfriend, Brian Laundrie, and was later found killed in Wyoming. Laundrie, who was named a person of interest in the case, but never charged with her death, disappeared three days after Petito was reported missing by her family and was later found dead. His death was ruled a suicide.

Petito’s disappearance and death due to strangulation started a nationwide conversation on domestic violence.

"I don't want to see this happen to another person. I know that we can't save everybody, but I think that this -- just awareness alone is giving people the strength," Petito's mother Nichole Schmidt said in an interview that aired on "Good Morning America."

The foundation said it has already donated $50,000 to the Aware Foundation, Safe Space and the National Domestic Violence Hotline, all foundations with similar missions to fight domestic violence and help find missing persons.

The hotline said in a news release that in just over two months, it has been able to help more 300 people who contacted them after visiting the Petito Foundation website.

"If we can even be a small piece of support network for somebody else in a similar situation and try to just help them get through it, that’s it goes a long way," said Jim Schmidt, Petito's stepfather.

Despite saying they will never get closure in the case of Petito's tragic death, they said their foundation's work gives them hope.

"She's doing a lot of good and she's touched a lot of people," said Joe Petito, Gabby Petito's father.

On the eve of their first Christmas without their daughter, Gabby Petito's mother said some days can be harder than others.

"We have our days where we just need to shut down and take a moment. But … the whole goal is prevention and helping other young people," Nichole Schmidt said. "We hope that we save lives and in Gabby's name and because of what happened to her, that that gives us a lot of hope."

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