10-Year-Old Addy Takes a Pie in the Face to Save Mountain Gorillas
Ten-year-old Addy Barrett has been a fierce lover of the endangered mountain gorillas ever since she read a book about them in the first grade.
She wanted to do something to help. Her first efforts were to raise awareness for these animals by making posters and holding lemonade stands – the proceeds from which she donated to gorilla conservation groups. She enjoyed those small efforts but wanted to do more!
In November 2017, Addy came up with the idea to start a viral fundraising campaign similar to the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge (where participants volunteer to get a bucket of ice water dumped on them to raise awareness and donations on social media).
Addy’s idea was called the Pie-Face Challenge!
The idea being that you get nominated, get “pied,” make a donation, then nominate others. That idea didn’t really spread beyond her immediate circle of friends and family, so she moved on to her next idea . . . creating her own informative gorilla website and fundraising blog, called Gorilla Heroes.
Addy’s grandfather helped her create a logo, which lead to a T-shirt fundraiser. Then the pie-face idea came back into play. For every shirt bought or donation made to the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund (DFGF), Addy got pied!
She raised quite a bit of money and caught the attention of the DFGF Board of Directors. Board member David Singer even came to visit Addy, bringing her special gifts all the way from Rwanda, including a hand-carved walking stick that he used on his trek to see the gorillas. The two even pied each other! Shortly thereafter, Addy received a special handwritten letter from Judith Harris, Chair of the Fossey Board.
Addy was having great fun raising money, selling shirts, and getting pied, but what she really wanted was to create an interactive experience that would get other kids as excited about gorillas and conservation as she is.
So in June 2018, Addy hosted a Gorilla Gala! This fun educational event had gorilla-themed games and crafts, a raffle, and an information booth, along with a Virtual Reality Gorilla Experience and even a Gorilla Relay Race!
Several companies and organizations supported the event, including Gorilla Glue, Go Ape Treetop Adventures, Thanksgiving Coffee, and the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Gardens. The Cincinnati Zoo even donated an original painting done by their Silverback Gorilla Jomo (yes, gorillas can paint!) to auction off at the Gala. The event was a tremendous success and brought in over 75 people and raised over $900.
Most recently, for World Gorilla Day on September 24, 2018, Addy launched her #GorillaPie Challenge, much like she did a year ago, but with a bit more success this time. Videos of conservationists and gorilla keepers from various zoos and even Animal Kingdom have popped up on various social media platforms.
What’s next? The sky is the limit for an inventive 10-year-old looking to make a difference in the world, trying to raise awareness of the endangered status of the mountain gorilla.
Addy looks forward to future conservation projects and is always looking for new and fun ways to raise awareness, especially among other kids. Overall she has helped raise over $4,000 in 2018, not bad for a ten-year-old! If you want to help, visit her fundraising page on the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund website and make a donation yourself today!
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For more information on mountain gorillas:
According to the World Wildlife Fund: “Mountain gorillas live in forests high in the mountains, at elevations of 8,000 to 13,000 feet. They have thicker fur, and more of it, compared to other great apes. The fur helps them to survive in a habitat where temperatures often drop below freezing. But as humans have moved more and more into the gorillas’ territory, the gorillas have been pushed farther up into the mountains for longer periods, forcing them to endure dangerous and sometimes deadly conditions.”
According to the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund website, the DFGF’s 50 years of successful conservation work in saving gorillas is based on “a holistic model with four key parts: direct, daily protection of gorillas; scientific research on gorillas and their ecosystems; educating the next generation of scientists and conservationists in Africa; and helping local people with basic needs, so that communities can thrive and work together with us.”