The #BettyWhiteChallenge and its Homage to the Star

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Image from GettyImages (Photo by Amanda Edwards/WireImage)

K. Peechu, Staff Writer

Everybody needs a passion. That’s what keeps life interesting. If you live without passion, you can go through life without leaving any footprints.”

— Betty White

The Golden Girls and Hot in Cleveland star’s death took the world by shock on December 31st, 2021. However, Betty White’s legacy continues to live on as friends, family, and fans made it their mission to honor her and her known passion for animal welfare.

Dubbed the “#BettyWhiteChallenge” on social media platforms, on January 17th—the day on which the actress would have turned 100 years old—White’s fans across the country urged people to donate $5 to any animal agency, shelter, or rescue. Big companies joined the challenge as well, such as Uber announcing its donation of $50,000 to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals in honor of Betty White. 

The challenge proved to be a success, doing justice to the star’s love for animals. The Los Angeles Zoo reported receiving $70,389 in donations on Monday, and approximately $95,000 overall as part of the #BettyWhiteChallenge, with proceeds coming from 49 states and 11 counties. 

The Canada-based animal shelter The British Columbia Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (BCSPCA) raised over $400,000 in donations as a result of the challenge, “awe-struck” as they wrote, “We reached out to Betty’s team to let her know what an amazing impact she has had for BC animals, they were thrilled and knew she would be too.”

Locally, a foster-run group in the nearby Raleigh-Chapel Hill area, TriBeagles, tweeted a message saying they raised over $12,000 as part of the challenge.

White was a longtime animal-welfare activist and board member of American Humane, an organization committed to ensuring the well-being and safety of animals in the country. She had even written a book dedicated to her passion for animals, Betty & Friends: My Life at the Zoo (2012), which was described to be, “…[A] love letter to those zoos, to their dedicated workers, and especially to the animals in them.”

Betty White’s love for animals ran deep. After becoming an actress, she had reportedly wanted to work as a zookeeper or forest ranger, but gender barriers had stood in the way. The Forest Service made her an honorary member in 2010, with a ceremony at the Kennedy Center in Washington D.C. 

“…[W]hether I’ve been a legitimate forest ranger or not, I’ve been working for the cause for the last 89 years, and I will continue to work for it as much as I can,” White had said.

Her work is evident in more ways than one. Beyond her association with larger foundations and organizations, Betty White had taken several actions personally in order to help animals. On Twitter, The Audubon Nature Institute stated that White had paid for a plane to evacuate penguins and sea otters because of Hurricane Katrina. She volunteered, raised funds, and advocated for animal welfare throughout her entire life, inspired by her parents who were, according to White, “genuine animal nuts.”

The #BettyWhiteChallenge is an outstanding honor to Betty White’s legacy in many ways. If you would like to donate to a local rescue or shelter, check out the links below:

Second Chance Pet Adoptions

Saving Grace Animals for Adoption NC

Piedmont Farm Animal Refuge

Safe Haven for Cats