In late November over 1,300 families were displaced due to out of control wildfires that engulfed parts of Sevier County, Tennessee. Dolly Parton has significant ties to the region and established the Dollywood Foundation My People Fund to aid the families and individuals affected by the fires.
On December 13th the, “Smoky Mountains Rise: A Benefit for the My People Fund,” telethon aired and people across the country poured millions into the coffers for Dolly’s fund. Her goal is to donate $1,000 a month for six months to each household that lost a primary residence.
I am overwhelmed by the generosity of the people who have donated from all over the country and to my friends who donated their time, their talent, and money for My People,” stated Dolly. “The response has been so overwhelming that we haven’t been able to count all of the donations yet … right now (as of December 14) … we have raised about $9 million dollars.”
Music superstars including Kenny Chesney, Taylor Swift, Chris Stapleton, Chris Young, Paul Simon and Dierks Bentley stepped up and made huge donations, and countless others across the country gave all they could.
In addition, a star-studded cast of performers donated their time including Reba McEntire, Big & Rich, Amy Grant, Alabama, Aaron Lewis, Rhonda Vincent, LOCASH, Kenny Rogers, Hank Williams Jr., Chris Stapleton, Alison Krauss, Michael W. Smith, Chris Janson, Chris Young, Montgomery Gentry, Jamey Johnson, Cyndi Lauper, and Don McLean.
Dolly is extremely popular and respected among her peers, a fact evidenced by the sheer number of celebrities who helped out during her telethon. In addition to the dozens of luminaries who aided with hosting and performing duties, Dolly enlisted an impressive number of celebrities to graciously answer phones during the broadcast.
The list of individuals who answered the phones reads like a Who’s Who Guide of Nashville and Hollywood royalty: Lee Greenwood, Larry & Rudy Gatlin, TG Sheppard, John Conlee, KC of KC & The Sunshine Band, rising country artists Lucas Hoge and Denny Strickland, members of the Tennessee Titans, songwriter Becky Hobbs, bluegrass hit makers Lorraine Jordan and Darrin Vincent, comedian Henry Cho, Paula Deen and her sons Bobby and Jamie, Chrisley Knows Best cast members Todd, Julie and Savannah, cast members of Dolly Parton’s Christmas of Many Colors, country hit-makers Chris & Morgane Stapleton, Mark Wills, Ronnie McDowell, Kristian Bush, Moonshiners’ cast members Mark and Digger, T. Graham Brown, and Dolly’s nieces Rebecca Seaver and Danielle Parton.
Carrie Underwood, Katy Perry, Larry King, and Steve Harvey, were among those sharing video messages during the broadcast.
Dolly’s other philanthropic ventures include her Imagination Library, a childhood literacy program, and she also oversees Dollywood, her 150 acre theme park in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee.
If you would like to make a tax-deductible contribution to the My People Fund, visit dollywoodfoundation.org for more information. Mail donations may be sent to: My People Fund, c/o Dollywood Foundation, 111 Dollywood Lane, Pigeon Forge, TN 37863.
Written by Tanya Clark