Dolly Parton telethon raises millions for Tennessee fire victims

Dolly Parton speaks with reporters as she arrives at the NBCUniversal Summer TCA Tour at the Beverly Hilton Hotel on Thursday, Aug. 13, 2015, in Beverly Hills, Calif. (Photo by Rich Fury/Invision/AP)

NASHVILLE (WATE) – Dolly Parton and a number of country music stars including Reba McEntire, Kenny Rogers and Alison Krauss raised millions during a telethon Tuesday night to help the victims of the deadly wildfires in Sevier County.

The “Smoky Mountains Rise: A Benefit for the My People Fund” three-hour telethon raised money for the Dollywood Foundation My People Fund, set up by The Dollywood Company, Parton and her dinner theaters to support families who lost everything in the fire. Parton said the final amount raised will not be released until after the telethon re-airs on the west coast, but did say it was in the millions. She set a goal of $13 million at the beginning of the night.

Previous story: Dollywood to give $1,000 per month to families who lost everything in wildfire

Chris Stapleton, Chris Young, Big & Rich, Michael W. Smith, Amy Grant, LOCASH, Chris Janson and Montgomery Gentry all took part in the telethon as well.

To donate, call 1-866-CARE-MORE or 1-800-942-9026
Text DOLLY to 501501 to donate $10
Text DOLLY25 to 501501 to donate $25
Go to http://www.dollywoodfoundation.org

In addition to those listed above, Hank Williams Jr., Cyndi Lauper, Alabama, Don McLean, Ronnie Dunn, Jamey Johnson and Lauren Alaina were added to the long list of performers on Sunday, December 11.

A number of celebrities answered phones during the telethon.  Paula Deen and her sons Bobby and Jamie, RaeLynn, Dailey & Vincent, Moonshiners’ Mark & Digger and much more.

“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.”

More coverage: Gatlinburg & East Tennessee wildfires

Several celebrities and others stopped by during the telethon to donate. The Academy of Country Music and Taylor Swift each donated $100,000. Paul Simon donated $100,000 as well. Belmont University donated $155,000 while the Tennessee Titans gave $144,270. Several other country artists donated, in addition to performing.

Texas mom Susan Naylor gave $100,000 in honor of her son Charlie who was training to be a firefighter.

Dollywood Foundation President, David Dotson said, “[We want to] underscore and emphasize the scope and scale of the tragedy that befell us. But at the same time it’s going to be a message of ‘we’re back in business, we’re back in looking towards the future, and we’re back in looking to restore a little bit of normalcy in people’s lives.”

East Tennessee native and country music singer Kenny Chesney posted a call to donate on social media. “East Tennessee is my heart and my soul,” said Chesney. The singer is helping the Country Music Association donate $500,000 for relief efforts, a portion will go toward the fund, according to WKRN.

The fund will provide eligible families with $1,000 a month for up to six months. Any family who lost their primary residence, whether they owned or rented, is eligible. A pre-application form is available online.

“I think over that time we’ll also see people, lives improve, and to get better and have a little bit of a happier ending that it is today,” said Dotson.

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.