When devastating wildfires ripped their way across Tennessee’s Sevier County last month, Dolly Parton was quick to lend her support. The country star grew up there and owns local businesses, including her Dollywood resort and theme park.
As firefighters fought the blaze that killed 14 people, burned over 17,000 acres and left more than 1,000 structures damaged, Parton established the My People Fund and vowed to donate $1,000 a month for six months to each of the families affected.
“I’ve always believed that charity begins at home,” Parton said of the fundraising effort. So that’s why the singer, songwriter and actress continued to raise money for wildfire victims and hosted a star-studded telethon Tuesday that raised nearly $9 million and counting for victims.
“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 in a statement provided to The Tennessean. “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 telethon included taped performances by Parton, Cyndi Lauper and Don McLean, Kenny Rogers, and Reba McEntire. People magazine reported the night started with a $200,000 donation from Taylor Swift, followed by $100,000 from Paul Simon. Other celebrities, the Academy of Country Music, ACM Lifting Lives and the Country Music Association donated funds as well. Several former and current Tennessee Titans football players participated in the event, and the NFL team donated more than $100,000, according to People.
The three-hour telethon aired on multiple stations Tuesday night. The total raised is expected to climb when the telethon is rebroadcast.
To learn more about Parton’s My People Fund, head over to the Dollywood Foundation website.
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