Donations pour in for Oak Park animal shelter thanks to ‘Betty White Challenge’

OAK PARK, Ill. — Monday, Jan. 17 would have been Betty White’s centennial birthday. In celebration of the late actress’s birthday, donations have been pouring into animal shelters across the country as part of the “Betty White Challenge.”

The movement is in response to the star’s love of our four-legged friends. 

Oak Park was the birthplace of White and the local shelter has seen a flood of support in her memory. Bowie, a 7-month-old who recently became an Oak Park resident at the Animal Care League, is one of many in search of a forever home. 

“Bowie was the lucky one who made it to us last week,” Kira Robson, Executive Director at Animal Care League, said. “He was transported to us from a shelter in Texas and he could have faced a very different reality there.”

Animal advocates hope the former Oak Parker will help play a key role in assisting Bowie and others in finding new and permanent homes, even though they will never meet.  

“Betty White is an Oak Park native. She was here in the 20s. We weren’t quite open yet,” Robson said.

The “Betty White Challenge” has exploded in popularity, with people all across the country encouraged to donate $5 to a shelter of their choosing.

“She is, as everyone knows, is a lifelong animal lover and advocate,” Robson said. “We feel very honored to be her hometown shelter. That’s why we’ve had so much fun this weekend.”

Folks came out in droves Saturday to celebrate the legacy of White.

“Our village did a big Betty White Centennial Celebration Saturday. We did animal adoptions. We collected Betty White Challenge donations and there was a lot of other fun stuff going on just to celebrate Betty’s life,” Robson said.

The event led to many animals finding new families but others like Garfield still hope the right person chooses him.  

“Donations coming in are crucial,” Robson said. “We try to make sure every animal coming to our doors has everything they need so that they can make it onto adoption.”

Robson says that close to $3,000 was raised to help the animals so far. Robson says she remains grateful that the memory of Betty White has sparked a movement.  

“I can’t imagine that wouldn’t be heartwarming,” Robson said, “and for her to be looking down, smiling, thinking ‘wow, how amazing.’” 

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