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"I want you to be inspired by Gabby:" Father shares emotional message at memorial for murdered daughter

Crowds are expected on Long Island on Sunday as the family of Gabby Petito holds a funeral home viewing for their daughter, whose death on a cross-country trip has sparked a manhunt for her boyfriend.

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Heather Leah
, WRAL multiplatform producer
HOLBROOK, N.Y. — Crowds gathered in Long Island on Sunday as the family of Gabby Petito held a funeral home memorial service for their daughter.
Petito's death during a cross-country road trip has sparked an outpouring of support from across the country. As much of her adventure was shared on social media, many people began to feel connected to her loss and wrapped up in the case, hoping for a better outcome.

Even as her parents grieve her loss, they said at her memorial that they hope her life inspires those who are watching everything unfold.

"Gabby loved life, and lived her life every single day," said her father. "She is an example for all of us to live by, to enjoy every moment in this beautiful world as she did. Love, and give love to all, like she did."

Her family spoke about her courageous and adventurous spirit. Not many people, especially as young as Gabby, have seen as much of the world or gone on so many adventures. Her perseverance, creativity and willpower pushed her to travel and explore.

In fact, her "seize the day" mentality allowed her to see so many incredible places in her short life.

"I'm so glad she had the chance to see as much of our beautiful world as she did," he said. He hopes her life will inspire others to chase their own adventures and dreams, not letting fear hold them back.

Her life seems to have inspired at least one little girl, an 11-year-old who wants to travel across the country like Petito did. Hearing from people like that brings a sense of comfort to her family, knowing her positive energy and legacy will continue to ripple on.

"She genuinely cared about people," said her father. "I couldn't have been more proud."

While Petito's care free spirit has inspired many people, her family said there is also a more serious and somber lesson to learn from her life – and death. They hope other people, perhaps in toxic or dangerous relationships, will learn from her story – and escape while they can.
Petito's story has opened up many conversations about domestic violence and abuse, as well as mental health. In this way, loved ones hope her story can save lives.

Although Petito is gone, they hope her life will inspire others to be bold, courageous and adventurous – and to never take for granted they have more time.

“If there is a trip you want to take – do it now while you have the time. If there is a relationship that might not be the best for you – leave it now," he said.

Her family left the memorial with one final message of hope: "Although there's a lot of evil and wrong in the world, there is more good. They're all across the world."

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