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Dolly Parton’s ‘Smoky Mountains Rise’ Telethon Raises $9 Million and Counting

Dolly Parton telethon 2016 money raised
Rick Diamond, Getty Images

Dolly Parton and her friends and fans raised a massive sum to help with wildfire relief efforts in Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge, Tenn., on Tuesday night (Dec. 13), during the Smoky Mountains Rise: A Benefit for the My People Fund telethon. Thus far, about $9 million has come in.

Mailed-in donations are still being counted, and additional donations are expected to come in as the telethon is re-broadcast over the next few days, a press release reports; “the response has been so overwhelming that we haven’t been able to count all of the donations yet,” Parton herself explains. That $9 million total includes large donations from fellow country stars Taylor Swift, Kenny Chesney, Chris Stapleton, Chris Young and Dierks Bentley, as well as from Paul Simon.

““I am overwhelmed by the generosity of the people who have donated from all over the country,” the country icon adds, “and to my friends who donated their time, their talent and money for my people.”

Smoky Mountains Rise: A Benefit for the My People Fund featured performances from Hank Williams Jr.Cyndi Lauper, Alabama, Stapleton, Reba McEntire, Kenny Rogers and more. RaeLynn, TG Sheppard and Larry Gatlin, among others, helped to answer phones during the telethon, and several others shared video messages durring the event.

After wildfires tore through Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge — resort towns in East Tennessee’s Sevier County — 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 (a pre-application for those looking for assistance is available now at DollywoodFoundation.org). Donations are being accepted through the Dollywood Foundation website, and via mail:

My People Fund
c/o Dollywood Foundation
111 Dollywood Ln.
Pigeon Forge, TN 37863

Additionally, donations can be made via text: Send DOLLY to 501501 to make a one-time $10 donation, or send DOLLY25 to 501501 to make a one-time $25 donation.

The Tennessee Emergency Management Association reports that there are more than a dozen confirmed deaths and more than 100 confirmed injuries due to the fires. During the evacuations, guests of Dollywood’s cabins and DreamMore Resort were relocated; though the theme park itself was unharmed, a dozen of its Smoky Mountain Cabins were damaged or destroyed. According to TEMA, nearly 1,500 structures were damaged or destroyed by the fires.

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