We’ve been part of her life — and her budget — since 1989, when Carrollton resident Linda Balkey made her first donation to the Dallas Zoo. And it didn’t stop there! Since 1995, Balkey has donated $25 every single month, and it’s a handwritten check every time.
She proves that no matter how small, every donation counts. “The Dallas Zoo is just a part of my budget. You don’t have to do a lot. I just felt called to do more, and this $25 I just won’t notice,” she explained.
But we’ve noticed. Each month when we open Balkey’s handwritten check, we wondered, ‘who is this woman?’ We wanted to know more about her, so we invited her out for a special day at the Zoo.
When we greeted her at the front gate, it felt like we had known her for years. “The Dallas Zoo has a soft spot in my heart,” said Linda, a retired second-grade teacher. “You all are like teachers, heroes — people don’t appreciate you enough. But I appreciate you stepping up and taking care of animals when the vast majority of us can’t.”
Her day began with a behind-the-scenes tour of the giraffe barn. Giddy as she fed the giraffes crackers, Balkey acknowledged it’s been too long since she had been to the Dallas Zoo. “I was a member when my kids were young, but that stopped when they grew up and moved away,” she said. “But I’ve kept up with you guys, and I’m so proud of your changes.”
Those changes couldn’t have happened without support such as hers. We visited our African black-footed penguins next, where Balkey got to hold and feed Opus.
When we learned tigers were her favorite animal, we knew we had to take her to their off-exhibit home. Her face lit up, and when we entered, it was if the tigers knew how special she was to us. Sumatran tiger Batu showed off, lounging in his pool, rolling over on his back and chuffing loudly (tiger lingo for “talking”).
We are immensely grateful to all of our donors, especially those who stay with us through the years. But we need you, too! On Oct. 1, we’ll launch our Decision/Donate 2014 Annual Fund campaign, where you can make a donation and vote for one of our candidates for our Animal Board of Directors! Stay tuned here on the ZooHoo! blog and on our social media sites for details.