Dolly Parton Telethon Raises Big Money for Tennessee Wildfires Victims
The three-hour televised special went into the evening with a $200,000 donation from Taylor Swift and the Academy of Country Music — and picked up another $100,000 from singer Paul Simon and $144,270 from the Tennessee Titans.
Additionally, Kenny Chesney and the Country Music Association contributed $500,000 ($250,000 each) towards wildfire relief, a portion of which will be earmarked for Parton’s My People Funds.
The exact amount raised will be revealed shortly (the telethon immediately re-aired on the West Coast), but the “Jolene” singer said the telethon brought in “millions.” Parton’s goal at the beginning of the evening was to raise $13 million, she said.
Officials have estimated the fires have caused $500 million in damages.
All moneys raised benefit the Dollywood Foundation My People Fund. It was established by Parton to assist families affected by the devastating Smoky Mountain wildfires two juveniles were charged with starting in Sevier County, Tennessee.
Each month, $1,000 will be provided by the My People Fund to Sevier County families whose homes are uninhabitable or were completely destroyed. Any family who lost their primary residence (renters and homeowners) due to the wildfires in Sevier County will be eligible for the donation. Those affected can apply at dollywoodfoundation.org.
“I have been watching the terrible fires in the Great Smoky Mountains and I am heartbroken,” Parton previously told PEOPLE in a statement. “I am praying for all the families affected by the fire and the firefighters who are working so hard to keep everyone safe. It is a blessing that my Dollywood theme park, the DreamMore Resort and so many businesses in Pigeon Forge have been spared.”
“I know it’s been a trying time for my people, and this assistance will help,” she said in a video announcement about her foundation. “Thank you for your help, continued prayers, and your concern. And I hope you’ll soon visit our Tennessee mountains and experience our Tennessee spirt.”
Tuesday’s special included performances from Parton and 22 of her friends — including Reba McEntire, Kenny Rogers, Hank Williams Jr., Chris Stapleton, Alison Krauss, Big & Rich, Cyndi Lauper, Don McLean, Amy Grant, Alabama, and more.
Celebrities were on hand to answer photos throughout the evening. Among the crowd was Paula Deen and her sons Bobby and Jamie, Chrisley Knows Best cast members Todd, Julie and Savannah Chrisley, and Nashville’s Charles Esten.
Even though the telethon is over, those wanting to donate to the cause can still do so at DollywoodFoundation.org.