#BettyWhiteChallenge is trending on social media and fans are coming together to raise money for animals that Betty loved on her 100th birthday anniversary.
Betty White was a lifelong advocate for animals, from caring for those in need to hosting her own weekly TV show, “The Pet Set,” dedicated to her celebrity pals and their pets.
Her most significant contribution, however, may be yet to come: Fans of White will be ready to donate to animal welfare charities and shelters on Monday as part of the #BettyWhiteChallenge. Animal welfare organizations are preparing to capitalize on the viral tribute to the “Golden Girls” and “Hot in Cleveland” star on what would have been her 100th birthday.
“I’ve had many conversations with Betty about animal welfare, and I know she’s looking down from heaven and really smiling,” said Robin Ganzert, the executive director of American Humane, an animal welfare organization with which White was involved for more than 60 years.
“She’ll be happy on her birthday,” she predicted. “And she’ll be beaming about the lives she’s touched.”
It’s unclear who started the #BettyWhiteChallenge on social media shortly after White died on December 31. Regardless of how it started, the idea — to donate $5 to a local animal rescue organization in White’s name on her birthday — quickly took off and received support on Twitter from celebrities such as actors Mark Hamill and George Takei.
Following White’s death, traffic to American Humane’s website increased significantly. Donations, according to Ganzert, have also increased. The nonprofit is holding off on revealing how much until more donations arrive, including sizable contributions from some donors.
Throughout her involvement with the organization, White made fundraising appeals, served on its board, and was a presenter and judge on its televised show featuring “hero” dogs. Ganzert said that during the early 1970s tapings of “The Pet Set,” White would have American Humane representatives on set to ensure the safety of the animals. The nonprofit presented her with its highest honor, the National Humanitarian Medal, in 2012.
Ganzert would also give White a photo book of the animals the organization helped each year.
“She had those on her coffee table,” Ganzert explained. “And (it) always moved me whenever we came to visit.”
According to Best Friends Animal Society’s chief mission officer Holly Sizemore, donations made in White’s name have raised $25,000 for the Utah-based animal welfare organization. The group has widely promoted the #BettyWhiteChallenge on its social media channels in order to gain support for both its own work and that of other organizations.
“That’s the beauty of animal welfare,” said Sizemore. “There’s something for everyone to get behind.” There is so much good work going on and so much opportunity to make the world a better place for people and animals, especially right now.”
Sizemore anticipates a large number of donations and attention to animal welfare on Monday.