Reptile hobbyists, business leaders and pet owners raised $45,000 to help a St. Louis-based reptile hobbyist-turned-professional whose 8-year old daughter died on September 28 after developing Pantothenate Kinase-Associated Neurodegeneration (PKAN).
The $45,000 raised for Anna Hupp, her father Joe, and the rest of the Hupp family was gathered through cash donations and an auction at the Tinley Park, Illinois, NARBC show on October 7-8. The conference is the largest held at the Chicago suburb’s Convention Center. Approximately 8,000 people attended, including several thousand Chicago-area residents.
“Joe Hupp was a hobbyist who went into full-time reptile breeding because it allowed him to stay home with Anna,” NARBC co-organizer Bob Ashley said. “The financial toll was significant, and Joe temporarily closed his business as Anna entered her final days. Anna, Joe and the rest of their family are in our thoughts and prayers. We are so grateful for the charity and kindness of those who attended Saturday’s auction, and for the Holiday Inn Convention Center which has always opened its door to us.”
The auction takes place at each of the four NARBC conferences held annually. The money raised normally goes to the U.S. Association of Reptile Keepers (USARK) for its work on behalf of reptile awareness, responsible care and professional unity. However, NARBC’s Brian Potter announced during a moving speech that part of the auction would focus on helping a community member in need. The decision to dedicate auction funds to the Hupps was fully supported by all of the auction’s 450 VIP attendees.
“USARK is heartbroken at Anna’s passing,” USARK President Phil Goss said. “Joe and his family have long been beloved by the reptile community. We are beyond proud of everyone for coming together to help one of our own.”
The funds raised at the auction are the latest sign of support for the Hupps. A GoFundMe fundraiser held shortly before Anna’s passing by friends of the family raised over $6,000, and thousands more were raised earlier in the year through other fundraisers. NARBC is encouraging people to continue sending money to the Hupps through PayPal.
“NARBC’s recent Arlington, Texas, show raised $12,000 for Hurricane Harvey victims, in part thanks to a Pappadeaux Restaurant donation of $6,000,” Goss and Ashley said. “Anna’s memory and her family’s love will live on in the hearts and minds of her family and friends, and we cannot thank everyone who came to the auction and those who have donated elsewhere for their generosity to one of our own.”