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Beyond the Comfort Zone

ASPCA $100K Challenge winners pushed themselves to do more

  • Austin Pets Alive! won big in the ASPCA's 100K Saving Lives Challenge in 2011. Who'll be the victor this year—you?

The teams from the ASPCA arrived in secret—some of them under cover of darkness—at locations around the country. Maine. California. Missouri and Mississippi and Texas and Florida.

They set their agendas carefully. They ordered cakes, each one inscribed in frosting with mysterious numbers: 739. 1,403. 1,673. They bought balloons and sparkling cider. And they prepared to deliver big news.

On Nov. 30, 2011, at noon Eastern Standard Time no matter where in the country they actually were, the teams descended on the animal welfare organizations that made up the top contestants of the ASPCA’s $100K Challenge. Until the moment they arrived at the doors of each shelter, it was all very hush-hush, says Bert Troughton, vice president of community outreach at the ASPCA.

“On the cakes, we just had the number of lives that each group saved, because we knew that if we called ahead and ordered a cake that had the agency name or anything that if somebody worked there, it could leak. … Everything was like, top, top secret.”

There was a celebration at each of the top-ranking organizations, which had pulled out the stops to save 300 more animals than they had during the same three months in 2010. But for one organization, it was a particularly big celebration.

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