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  • Writer's pictureMary Brunski, RICP©️BFA™️


NBCUniversal via Getty Images
NBCUniversal via Getty Images

In early 2022, people everywhere honored the recently deceased Betty White on what would have been her 100th birthday by donating to an animal shelter or rescue in her name.

Called the #BettyWhiteChallenge, the movement called on animal — and Betty White — lovers to donate $5 (or any amount) to a shelter or rescue before or on her birthday, January 17th, 2022 — to give White "the movement she deserves." Meta reported that the #BettyWhiteChallenge fundraisers on its social media platforms had raised nearly $900,000 from 26,000 people. And ultimately the campaign topped $12.7 million in donations to benefit shelters and rescue operations.

White, who passed away at the age of 99 on December 31st, 2021, was known for her starring roles on The Golden Girls and Mary Tyler Moore Show. She was also celebrated for maintaining a strong sense of humor and a knack for appearing to be “the girl next door” while she delivered stingingly wry one-liners.

But less well-known is that Betty White was a lifelong animal advocate who worked to make a difference in the lives of homeless pets and advocate for animal rights around the world. She called herself a “zoo nut” in a memoir she wrote in 2011 called Betty and Friends: My Life at the Zoo. Betty was involved with volunteering and fundraising for the Greater Los Angeles Zoo Association from the time the Los Angeles Zoo opened in 1966, and she subsequently became a trustee in 1974. White was also a trustee of Morris Animal Foundation from 1971-2013. In 2010, she made a donation that established the Betty White Wildlife Fund in response to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill and sponsored over 30 animal health studies on behalf of the organization.

The #BettyWhiteChallenge was a great way to mark a person’s advocacy in such a positive way. Here’s to all of us, like Betty White, pursuing our passions in life.


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