Star Studded #SmokyMountainRise Telethon Raises Nearly $9 Million So Far
Dolly Parton’s telethon, “Smoky Mountains Rise: A Benefit for the My People Fund,” held Tuesday night in Nashville Tennessee was a star-studded event working to raise millions for the victims affected by recent fires in east Tennessee. The three-hour star-studded event was packed with beautiful performances, emotional stories and a collective message of hope.
“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,” Dolly 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.
Special guests banded together for the effort manning phones, performing music, and sending in video well wishes for “Dolly’s people.” Appearances included 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, Rhonda Vincent, and Keith Urban were among those who showed their support. Other celebrities volunteered to answer phones during the telethon, including Paula Deen and her sons Bobby and Jamie, RaeLynn, Dailey & Vincent, Moonshiners’ Mark & Digger, T.G. Sheppard, Jason Crabb, Larry Gatlin, comedian Henry Cho, Tim Rushlow.
Multiple checks, both small and large, were presented by celebs and organizations including retail chain Dollar General who donated $300,000. Dierks Bentley, The Academy of Country Music, Taylor Swift, and Paul Simon each donated $100,000. The Tennessee Titans gave $144,270.
“I’m so proud that RFD-TV and Rural Radio were part of the efforts to help the families devastated by these wildfires,” stated Patrick Gottsch, Founder & President of Rural Media Group. “The telethon was a great opportunity to raise more funds to help support the people of Tennessee. RFD-TV viewers and Rural Radio listeners are some of the most compassionate people you’ll meet, and I have no doubt they will step up to help the affected families.”
“My home in the Smoky Mountains of Tennessee is some place special,” Parton said. “Wildfires have affected many of the people — my people — who live in those beautiful mountains. We want to provide a hand up to those families who have lost everything in the fires. I know it has been a trying time for my people and this assistance will help get them back on their feet.”
Dolly wrapped the marathon with longtime friend Kenny Rogers duet, singing their famous Bee Gee’s penned song, “Islands in the Stream.” The duo playfully cracked jokes throughout the song as Dolly quipped “Don’t break my hair” and “Can you step back and let me sing one?” Then towards the end, she said, “Is this song getting higher or are we just getting older?”
After wildfires tore through east Tennessee in late November and early December, Parton (a native of the area) established the My People Fund to provide $1,000 a month for six months to families “whose homes are uninhabitable or were completely destroyed” because of the fires. Viewers can call 1-866-CARE MORE to donate to the “My People Fund.” Donations are also being accepted through The Dollywood Foundation website and via mail:
My People Fund
c/o Dollywood Foundation
111 Dollywood Ln.
Pigeon Forge, TN 37863
RFD-TV and Rural Radio Channel 147 on SiriusXM Radio partnered with the Dollywood Foundation’s My People Fund to help raise money for the victims of the recent fires in the Great Smoky Mountains and air the telethon “Smoky Mountains Rise: A Benefit for the My People Fund,” on Tuesday, December 13th from 8:00 p.m. EST – 11:00 p.m. EST on RFD-TV and Rural Radio.
The recent wildfires in East Tennessee have wrought tremendous damage to the Smoky Mountain region including around Gatlinburg where Dolly Parton grew up. More than 1,750 structures have been destroyed and hundreds of families have been displaced. Moreover, the fires disrupted the region’s number one industry — tourism. The area is now open and welcoming guests, but the people directly affected by the fires desperately need help.
Dolly created the My People Fund through her Dollywood Foundation to provide direct relief to the families who lost their homes (primary residence, own or rent). Each family will receive $1,000 per month for six months to give them a hand up. The funds are open to both renters and homeowners whose primary residences are uninhabitable or were destroyed by wildfires in the Smokies. To date nearly 1,700 structures have been affected by the fire and 13 people have died. More than $1 million has already been raised for area families through the fund. Significant donors to the fund include Verizon, Tanger Outlets, Miley Cyrus’ Happy Hippie Foundation, CoreCivic, and The Blalock Company. Remaining proceeds after satisfying this initial effort will be used to provide direct aid in Sevier County, Tennessee.
According to a release from the foundation, “the first funds will be distributed 10:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m. December 15-16 and December 19-20 at the CARE MORE Assistance Center at the LeConte Events Center in Pigeon Forge. One check per household per month will be issued. All recipients must show a photo ID. The release said that those needing assistance in the application process should call 800-DOLLYWOOD.”
RFD-TV is distributed to more than 50 million homes across the country on various cable systems including DISH Network, DIRECTV®, Comcast, AT&T U-Verse, Mediacom, Charter Spectrum, Suddenlink, Cox, and more than 600 independent rural cable systems. In addition, people can watch on Roku, on DIRECTV NOW, and online via our subscription service, the Country Club, at rfdcc.com. Rural Radio is found exclusively on SiriusXM channel 147 and is the agribusiness and Western-lifestyle channel for the U.S. and Canada. Rural Radio’s program schedule revolves around original productions focused on agriculture, equine, hunting, fishing, Western sports, and living the country life in small towns around rural America.
About My People Fund
More than 1,300 families have been displaced due to the wildfires which spread across Dolly’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. Currently, the monthly pledge is in excess of $1.3 million each month.
Donate Online at DollywoodFoundation.org
About Tennessee Wildfires
On Nov. 28, devastating wildfires burned some 17,000 acres in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The fires also affected parts of Gatlinburg and Sevier County, TN. Sadly, 14 people lost their lives in these terrible fires, and over 100 confirmed injuries were reported. Over 14,000 people were evacuated during the fires which damaged or destroyed more than 1,700 structures (homes, businesses, and churches). In Gatlinburg alone, officials estimate the wildfires caused more than $500 million in damage.
For more information about the Dollywood Foundation, visit dollywoodfoundation.org. For the full program schedule and more information about RFD-TV and Rural Radio Channel 147 on SiriusXM visit rfdtv.com and ruralradio147.com.