Hours before the year 2022 began the world lost one of, if not it’s most loved celebrity. Betty White passed away New Year’s Eve at the age of 99 years old and mere weeks from hitting the century mark. White was an actress best known for her roles on Golden Girls and The Mary Tyler Moore Show, but perhaps her greatest role was one behind the cameras. Betty White’s legacy of charity was built over many decades of using her fame to bring awareness and raise money for animals in need.
White became a trustee for the Morris Animal Foundation in 1971 and stayed in that role through 2013. She also served as the Canine Division Vice President for nine years before becoming Board President for three years. The Morris Animal Foundation is a non-profit organization that focuses on medical science for animals. Funding research to develop lifesaving and altering cures and treatments for diseases in animals.
President/CEO of Morris Animal Foundation, Tiffany Grunert, remembers Betty White and what she meant to the non-profit, “It is hard to imagine a world without Betty in it. She was a tremendous animal advocate who tirelessly supported the work of Morris Animal Foundation to improve the health of animals globally. All of us at the Foundation are mourning the loss of this amazing woman.”
“We will miss her wit, her intelligence and, most of all, her love of animals and commitment to advancing their health. She was a true inspiration to our staff, her fellow trustees and all of our supporters.”
White was heavily involved with the Morris Animal Foundation for nearly 50 years. Besides the roles she filled in an official capacity she offered her services in other areas such as, hosting and appearing at events and sponsoring specific health studies for a wide variety of animals. She dedicated a lot of her personal time and money to the non-profit.
White was considered to be the heart of the foundation by some. According to the wife of Dr. Mark Morris Jr. and Board Trustee member, Bette Morris, “Betty was always an active participant in our scientific review process. She often said that our scientific advisory boards were the engines that drove Morris Animal Foundation. If they are the engines, then she certainly was our organization’s heart.”
Her whole life she was looking to help animals and hopefully ease as much suffering for them as possible. She did this by continuing to work with and support the Morris Animal Foundation. She also began the Betty White Wildlife Fund in response to the Deep-Water Horizon oil spill in 2010. The fund’s main goal is to provide necessary help for animals in emergency situations. “Betty always put the animals first.
In the 1990s, White suggested pain management should be an area of future research and funded the first few studies. Today, if a veterinarian performs an elective surgery, like a spay or neuter without using pain management, she/he could face a malpractice charge. You can thank Betty White for that revolutionary change in the way we practice all phases of veterinary medicine today.” Said Dr. Rob Hilsenroth, who once served as Executive Director for Morris Animal Foundation.
Naturally, the passing of someone as universally loved and adored as Betty White elicited many emotions from the general public. With her passing happening only a few weeks before her birthday, many targeted that date to try and figure something out to honor her. Her work with animals seemed like a no brainer to many. Once White’s birthday rolled around in January fans made a big statement: local animal shelters, charities, and groups began seeing an influx of donations being made in memory of Betty.
The viral movement grew thanks to the Internet making it one its many “challenges,” this one branded the #BettyWhiteChallenge. The challenge called on people to make five-dollar donations in her name. While the true numbers will never be known, the challenge raised hundreds of thousands of dollars. It was a remarkable impact in honor of a life of charitable work.
Betty White was many things and loved for even more reasons. She will forever be known for her iconic roles as an actress. Beyond that she will be remembered in the hearts of millions as a caring, sweet, funny, and talented human being that always cared for others.
While it’s hard to imagine a world post-Betty White, we hope her legacy of giving is one that will persist as strongly as the one she left behind in acting. We know the world will always be a better place because of Betty White’s legacy.