Telethon Raises Nearly $9 Million for Fire Victims
PIGEON FORGE, Tenn. (WTVQ) – Millions watched Smoky Mountains Rise: A Benefit for the My People Fund telethon and millions were raised.
The telethon, broadcast on GAC, AXS-TV, RFD and The Heartland Network Tuesday, received huge donations from music stars like Taylor Swift, Kenny Chesney, Chris Stapleton, Chris Young, Paul Simon and Dierks Bentley but also from families across the country who just want to give the people of Dolly Parton’s home area a hand up in the tragic wildfires.
“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, talent and money for My People,” Parton explained. “The response has been so overwhelming that we haven’t been able to count all of the donations yet; right now, in total, we have raised about $9 million dollars for the folks who lost everything in Sevier County.”
The total amount raised is expected to rise as mail donations are counted and the telethon is rebroadcast to new audiences over the next five days.
Anyone who would like to make a tax-deductible contribution to the My People Fund may visit dollywoodfoundation.org. For those wishing to send donations via mail, those contributions should be sent to: My People Fund, c/o Dollywood Foundation, 111 Dollywood Lane, Pigeon Forge, TN 37863. Donations are also being accepted by texting DOLLY to 501501 for a onetime $10 donation or DOLLY25 to 501501 for a onetime $25 donation. Messaging and data rates will apply.
More than 1300 families have been displaced due to the wildfires which spread across Parton’s home area of Sevier County, Tennessee in late November. The entertainment icon established the Dollywood Foundation My People Fund to provide $1000 each month for six months to every family who lost their primary residence.
Artists who donated their performances to the effort include: Dolly Parton, Kenny Rogers, Hank Williams Jr., Chris Stapleton, Reba McEntire, Alison Krauss, Michael W. Smith, Chris Janson, Big & Rich, LOCASH, Chris Young, Montgomery Gentry, Jamey Johnson, Cyndi Lauper, Don McLean, Amy Grant, Alabama, Aaron Lewis and Rhonda Vincent.
Parton hosted the overall telethon with friends HLN’s Robin Meade, GAC’s Suzanne Alexander and Nan Kelly, The Bobby Bones Show’s Bobby Bones, SiriusXM’s Storme Warren, Crook & Chase hosts Lorriane Crook and Charlie Chase, Nash Night LIVE’s Shaun Parr and Elaina D. Smith, and TuneIn Country Roads’ Kelly Sutton will share hosting duties throughout the three-hour broadcast.
Celebrities also donated their time to answer phones including: Paula Deen and her sons Bobby and Jamie, Chrisley Knows Best cast members Todd, Julie and Savannah, Moonshiners’ cast members Mark and Digger, Nashville’s Charles Esten, cast members of Dolly Parton’s Christmas of Many Colors, country hit-makers Chris & Morgane Stapleton, Mark Wills, Lee Greenwood, Larry and Rudy Gatlin, TG Sheppard, John Conlee, Ronnie McDowell, Kristian Bush, Tim Rushlow, T. Graham Brown, Dolly’s nieces Rebecca Seaver and Danielle Parton, bluegrass hit makers Lorraine Jordan and Darrin Vincent, comedian Henry Cho, KC of KC & The Sunshine Band, hot new country artists Brett Young, Cassadee Pope, RaeLynn, Danielle Bradbury, Lucas Hoge, Denny Strickland, songwriter Becky Hobbs, and members of the Tennessee Titans.
Several other celebrities shared special video messages during the telethon including: Katy Perry, Carrie Underwood, Larry King, Steve Harvey, Good Morning America’s Robin Roberts, Kiefer Sutherland, and Today Show’s Willie Geist.
Smoky Mountains Rise was also simulcast across multiple radio chains, including iHeart Media’s digital and select on-air platforms, Cumulus Media’s NASH Nights LIVE, TuneIn’s Country Roads channel, RURAL Radio on SiriusXM plus cross-promotion on The Highway, Prime Country, Y2Kountry and The Garth Channel, CBS Radio, ABC Radio Networks, and several other platforms which are set to be announced shortly. All of the artists are donating their performances to help the effort. USAToday.com and USA Today National Networks live streamed the telethon on their affiliate newspaper websites, including all Tennessee newspaper sites Tennessean.com, Knoxnews.com, commercialappeal.com, jacksonsun.com, theleafchronicle.com, dnj.com, and others.
The My People Fund will provide $1000 each month to Sevier County families whose homes are uninhabitable or were completely destroyed in the recent Smoky Mountain wildfires. Any family who lost their primary residence (renters and homeowners) due to the wildfires in Sevier County will be eligible. A pre-application for those affected is available at dollywoodfoundation.org.