MASON, Mich. — There is a social media challenge sweeping the country and raising a lot of money for animals. It’s called the Betty White Challenge, and it was inspired by the well-known actress by the same name.
Since Betty’s death on December 31 of last year, Good Neighbors throughout the world, especially here in mid-Michigan, are stepping forward and raising a lot of money for animal charities.
Shelley Bessel of St. John’s is one of them. Shelley says she is a huge Betty White fan.
“Betty White was such an icon. And, you know, we essentially grew up with her," Bessel said. "We watched her in Mary Tyler Moore, we lived The Golden Girls Years, and anybody that needed a good laugh would watch Hot in Cleveland. She always just brought so much joy.”
When the beloved actress, author, and humanitarian died on December 31, Shelley says she also wanted to do something to honor her. So, she donated to the Capital Area Humane Society.
“Kind of as a give back for everything that she gave us and entertainment and just you know, pure unadulterated joy," Bessel said.
Shelley is not alone; Betty White fans across the globe are making donations to animal organizations in her name. The Betty White Challenge has taken social media by storm - asking people to donate $5 or more in Betty's name to their favorite animal shelter or charity.
The Betty White Challenge is alive and well in mid-Michigan. Local animal shelters like Ingham County Animal Control are receiving donations daily in the late actress’s honor.
Heidi Williams is the Director of the Ingham County Animal Control and says the challenge came at just the right time.
“The need has never been greater for community support, providing spray and neuter surgeries, preventative medications, vaccinations, things like that, and this money is going to go towards helping us continue to provide those services to our community," Williams said.
Holt resident Esther Perez heard about the challenge and said she decided to come into the Ingham County Animal Control to donate in White’s name.
“I heard about it online actually," said Perez. "Because, you know, everybody was waiting to celebrate her 100th birthday. She's always been so active with animals. She was out there to help rescue, so it just seemed appropriate. You know, she may be gone now, but her influence is going to be here forever!”
The Capital Area Humane Society is planning a party this coming Monday, January 17, in honor of what would have been Betty’s 100th birthday.
Penny Myers is the Capital Area Humane Society Director of Community Relations and says the Betty White Challenge is bringing in lots of donations there too.
“Who would have thought that this Betty White challenge would have taken off like it has," Myers said. "Before it even really started, we were getting donations. We thought, oh my gosh, well, let's put it out there and let people know that we are going to join this Betty White Challenge. It has just been so special and just wonderful that people are remembering her and wanting to donate.”
Penny says The Capital Area Humane Society has received close to $5,000 in donations from the Betty White Challenge and she expects even more will come in through Monday.
Other animal organizations throughout mid-Michigan are also seeing increased donations.
The Jackson County Animal Shelter confirmed they’ve received several thousands of dollars in her name.
And The Shiawassee Humane Society says they’ve had over 500 individual donations.
Ingham County Animal control confirms they’ve received over $1,500 in donations and expect more to come in as well.
Heidi Williams says she isn’t surprised by the outpouring of love.
“I think it brings awareness to sheltering and rescues and the important work that's going on in the animal welfare world," Williams said. "I also think it just brings more recognition to the people that are out there every day, trying to make a difference for these animals. And to me, that's what it's all about.”
We want to say thank you to Betty White – not only for her years of bringing laughter and smiles on the TV screen but for her love and passion for animals that sparked this trend.
And to those of you who have donated to local shelters in Betty’s name, we say thank you. You are this week’s Good Neighbors.
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