Generosity of viewers' unexpected volume of donations slowing final tally
Millions watched "Smoky Mountains Rise: A Benefit for the My People Fund" telethon on Tuesday, and millions were raised.
The telethon, broadcast on GAC, AXS-TV, RFD and The Heartland Network, received huge donations from music stars 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 after the tragic wildfires.
More than 1,300 families have been displaced due to the wildfires that 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 $1,000 each month for six months to every family who 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," Parton said. "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 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 few 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.
Artists who donated their performances to the effort include: Parton, Stapleton, Young, Kenny Rogers, Hank Williams Jr., Reba McEntire, Alison Krauss, Michael W. Smith, Chris Janson, Big & Rich, LOCASH, 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.
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"; musicians Chris & Morgane Stapleton, Mark Wills, Lee Greenwood, Larry & Rudy Gatlin, TG Sheppard, John Conlee, Ronnie McDowell, Kristian Bush, Tim Rushlow, T. Graham Brown, Rebecca Seaver and Danielle Parton, Lorraine Jordan and Darrin Vincent, Lucas Hoge and Denny Strickland; comedian Henry Cho; KC of KC & The Sunshine Band; 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" host Robin Roberts, Kiefer Sutherland and "Today" anchor Willie Geist.
The My People Fund will provide $1,000 each month to Sevier County families whose homes are uninhabitable or were completely destroyed in the recent Smoky Mountain wildfires. Any family who lost a 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.