Dolly Parton’s “My People” telethon Tuesday to benefit victims of Tennessee’s largest fire in 100 years raised nearly $9 million by Thursday morning.
“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,” the country-music legend, 70, said in a statement. “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 wildfire across 17,000 acres late last month in Parton’s native county killed 14 people and left 1,300 families homeless. The singer’s My People Fund will provide $1,000 each month for up to six months to those families, with 100 percent of the donations going to them, according to Parton’s Dollywood Foundation.
“Smoky Mountains Rise: A Benefit for the My People Fund” aired Tuesday on cable channel Great American Country, with more than 20 live and taped performances by acts including Parton, who joined with Kenny Rogers on their duet hit “Islands in the Stream”; Cyndi Lauper, who sang “Time After Time”; and Reba McEntire, doing “O Come All Ye Faithful.” Among others performing were Don McLean, Chris Stapleton and Chris Young.
“American Idol” 2005 winner Carrie Underwood and “Designated Survivor” star Kiefer Sutherland appeared on video messages, said Tennessee media, with country singer Dierks Bentley and pop-music icon Paul Simon each calling to pledge $100,000. Singer Kenny Chesney and the Country Music Association presented a $250,000 joint check, with Young spontaneously adding $50,000 to that donation.
A tax-deductible donation can be mailed to The Dollywood Foundation My People Fund, 111 Dollywood Lane, Pigeon Forge, TN 37863.