On Tuesday night (December 13), some of country music’s biggest stars came together for a great cause. Hank Williams Jr., Alison Krauss, and Chris Stapleton were just a handful of artists who agreed to perform at Dolly Parton‘s Smoky Mountains Rise: A Benefit for the My People Fund telethon. Parton hosted the telethon to help raise more money for her My People Fund, which she established after wildfires tore through East Tennessee.
Parton grew up in Sevier County, where the effects of the fires were the most severe. Her Dollywood theme park is currently located there, but fortunately for Parton, it was spared in the fires.
However, many others were not as lucky.
A report published on Tuesday stated that damage costs from the fires have reached $500 million so far. A total of 2,400 structures were destroyed, many of which were private homes.
It devastated Parton to see her homeland in such a state, and she wanted to do everything she could to help. That’s why she established the My People Fund. Her original intention for the fund was to provide $1000 each month for six months to anyone whose home is uninhabitable or destroyed.
In order to help raise more funds, Parton decided to host her Smoky Mountains Rise telethon. As viewers tuned in to watch the artists’ moving performances, donations came pouring in.
On Wednesday (December 14), Nashville Gab reported Parton had raised millions of dollars at that point, but no official total was given. The publication stated that Parton’s goal for the telethon was $13 million. Now, the numbers are finally in to show how exactly much Parton’s telethon has raised.
In a press release, Parton revealed that millions of people tuned in to watch the telethon when it aired. As a result, millions of dollars were raised and the total is still increasing. But as of press time, Parton stated that they have managed to raise nearly $9 million so far:
“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,” she said. “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 dollars for the folks who lost everything in Sevier County.”
Some big names helped contribute to that donation total, including Taylor Swift, Kenny Chesney, and Dierks Bentley. But many of the donations came from everyday people who were simply touched by the strength of East Tennessee in the wake of this tragic event.
As Parton said, they are still counting the donations to determine just how much money was raised from the telethon. That total is sure to keep increasing over the next few days, as the telethon will be rebroadcast to reach new audiences.
Those audiences will get the chance to see some incredible performances, including one from Parton and her good friend Kenny Rogers. They revisited their iconic duet “Islands in the Stream” for the broadcast, and it was as spectacular as you’d expect. Tune in below to see that performance.
If you’d like to donate to the My People Fund, you can do so by visiting the Dollywood Foundation website here.