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Betty White Challenge raises money for animals in Fort Myers, Naples



Betty White was a longtime animal lover and activist. Here she is in a 1986 portrait.

Betty White would’ve loved the Betty White Challenge.

That’s what Liz McCauley thinks about the viral social-media campaign, launched soon after the TV star’s death. The hashtag #BettyWhiteChallenge asks people to donate to their favorite animal shelters and animal-welfare groups, and that’s exactly what people are doing — including right here inSouthwest Florida

“I think she would be thrilled that, even after her passing, she’s helping so many,”McCauley, the Cape Coral Animal Shelter’s executive director, said: “I don’t think anything would make her happier.”

Here’s a hint:Betty WhiteThis animal sanctuary needs your donations forFor many years, her baby donkey has been named after her

White — who died Dec. 31 at age 99, just three weeks shy of her 100th birthday  — adored animalsAnd she used her star power for as many good causes as possible.

“She just helped so many animal causes in her life, and so many animals,”McCauley: “It was her passion in life.

“It would make her so proud, I believe, just knowing how many animals are going to benefit from this initiative that’s basically gone global now. It’s pretty cool.”

What is the #BettyWhiteChallenge?:Her animal advocacy and legendary star status are honored by fans

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Southwest Florida animal shelters and groups are already benefiting from the Betty White Challenge

Even cooler: Many Southwest Florida animal shelters and groups are already benefiting from the Betty White Challenge. Some raised more than $1,500 inThis is the only week.

“It’s a wonderful way to honor her memory and her compassion for animals,” says Carolina Diaz, marketing director for Humane Society Naples. “And I think it’s a really great way, also, to inspire a new generation of people to become interested in animal welfare.”

Luna is one of several elderly dogs up for adoption at Gulf Coast Humane Society, which is raising money for its older animals during the Betty White Challenge.

Shortly after the #BettyWhiteChallenge hashtag became popular on social media, it was quickly removed from the top of search results. White’s death. Challenge: Make a donation to any animal shelter, rescue, or other animal welfare organization on Monday, January 17.White’s birthday) or inThe days before that.

Some shelters hadn’t even heard about the charity. Betty White Challenge — until the checks and donations started arriving, that is.

“I started seeing donations coming in that were signed, ‘In honor of Betty White,’”” BettyHughes, Treasurer forAnimal Refuge Center (ARC). in North Fort Myers. “And I was so confused!”

ARC shelter dog Oreo just had knee surgery. The no-kill shelter is raising money to pay for the $3,000 bill through the Betty White Challenge.

Hughes now knows everything about Hughes Betty White ChallengeOf course. ARC also has a Facebook fundraising page for the $3,000 knee surgery needed last month by the shelter’s elderly black lab, Oreo. So far, they have raised over $1,100.

“That’s a great start,”Hughes. “And it’s not even her birthday! I miss that woman. She indeed was a national treasure.”

ARC, along with other animal groups in the area are participating in this game White’s most famous role — the ditzy Rose Nylund on the hit TV comedy “The Golden Girls” — with fundraisers to help their own “golden girls” (and boys). Senior dogs and cats are often overlooked for adoption, McCauley says.

Cape Coral Animal Shelter currently has approximately 10 elderly dogs and five senior cats.

“We help a lot of senior dogs here,”McCauley: “If they were puppies, they would’ve been out of here a long time ago, but they’re 8 years old and people shy away from that sometimes.

“And it’s not fair, because they’re great dogs.”

So far, they’ve raised about $1,200 in the shelter’s “Golden Girls (and Guys)” fundraiser, and that’s expected to pick up more during White’s birthday week (Jan. 17-21), McCauley says. That’s when the shelter will start promoting the fundraiser more on social media and its website.

Fluffy is one of several elderly cats at Cape Coral Animal Shelter. The shelter is raising money for its older

It is crucial to make donations forThese animal shelters, animal welfare groups are all available.

Brian Wierima, spokesperson for the nonprofit Gulf Coast Humane Society says that it survives on grants and donations alone. That’s especially important forNo-kill shelters are provided for those who qualify animals stay until they get adopted — or even if they never do.

“We do not practice euthanization to clear kennel space,”Wierima “We will care for a shelter animal for as long as we have to, before finding a forever home for them. Donations are vital.”

Both Humane Society NaplesGulf Coast Humane Society and Gulf Coast Humane Society will launch fundraising campaigns for #BettyWhiteChallenge on Jan. 17. Gulf Coast Humane Society will launch a fundraising campaign to raise funds. moneyParticularly forThey are older cats and dogs.

“We want to transfer Betty White’s outlook on life and her marvelous positive attitude onto peoples’ and potential adopters’ attitudes towards our long-term shelter animals,” Wierima says. “Not only do we want to raise important donations for the GCHS shelter animals, but also shed light on (the fact) that our long-term shelter animals are very worthy of a forever home!”

Roseanne is one of several elderly dogs at Cape Coral Animal Shelter. The shelter is raising money for its older

McCauley — a longtime “Golden Girls” fan — loves the idea of raising money for animals inThe name of Betty White. It’s a love she has since she was first told about it. Betty White Challenge.

“My first thought was: ‘That’s amazing,’”McCauley: “It’s neat that they want to help local shelters. And everybody benefits.”

Find out more information about the local animal organizations and ways to donate.

Connect with this reporter: Charles Runnells is an arts and entertainment reporter forThe News-Press, and NaplesDaily News. Email him at [email protected] or connect on Facebook (, Twitter (@charlesrunnells) and Instagram (@crunnells1).