FREDERICK, Md. (DC News Now) — Melissa and Jay Wastler lost their daughter, Gabrielle Benton, in a tragic car crash in 2021 when she was 33.
Now, they plan on honoring her legacy by giving back to the community through the Gabrielle Diana Kennedy Benton Memorial Fund.
“She would give anybody the shirt off her back. She’d take anybody in, and she really loved her kids,” said Jay.
The program would support nonprofit organizations in Frederick County that support people with disabilities, with a preference for individuals with Down syndrome.
It would also benefit mental health programs for children, particularly programs focusing on Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACES).
According to the Frederick County Health Department, in 2016 approximately 27.2% of adults were affected by ACES.
The Wastlers said Gabrielle’s daughters are among those who could benefit.
“We could not find many mental health providers that were working with small children and especially ones that were focused on ACES,” said Melissa.
“They have a therapist. The oldest one has PTSD and ADHD, and the older she gets if we don’t get all the help that she can get, then more will come. The sooner you get them in therapy, the better they’ll be,” said Jay.
They are currently working with the Community Foundation of Frederick County to help raise $25,000 for the fund.
If you are interested in making a donation, click here.