Dolly Parton telethon raises nearly $9 million for Tennessee wildfire victims

Dolly Parton poses for a picture with Kenny Alphin, left, and John Rich, right, of the country music duo Big & Rich, during tapings for Parton's Smoky Mountain Rise Telethon Tuesday, Dec. 13, 2016, in Nashville. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)

Dolly Parton poses with Big & Rich, during tapings forher Smoky Mountain Rise Telethon Tuesday, Dec. 13, 2016, in Nashville. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)

BY MELISSA RUGGIERI/AJC Music Scene

The Dolly Parton telethon to help those affected by the deadly wildfires in Gatlinburg raised about $9 million.

“Smoky Mountains Rise: A Benefit for the My People Fund,” aired Tuesday evening with a starry cast of performers including Parton, Kenny Rogers, Chris Stapleton, Reba McEntire, Cyndi Lauper, Amy Grant, Hank Williams Jr., Alison Krauss and more. Hefty donations were also made by Taylor Swift, Kenny Chesney, Paul Simon, Chris Young, Dierks Bentley and Stapleton, as well as from families across the country.

The amount raised from the telethon, which aired on GAC, AXS-TV, RFD and The Heartland Network, is expected to increase after mail donations are factored in and the telethon reaches new viewers in its rebroadcasts.

More than 1,300 families have been displaced because of the wildfire damage.

Those who would like to make a tax-deductible contribution to the My People Fund may visit dollywoodfoundation.org.

To send a donation by mail: My People Fund, c/o Dollywood Foundation, 111 Dollywood Lane, Pigeon Forge, TN 37863.

Donations are also being accepted by texting DOLLY to 501501 for a onetime $10 donation or DOLLY25 to 501501 for a onetime $25 donation (messaging and data rates will apply).

Parton, a native of Sevier County in East Tennessee, also established a fund that would provide $1,000 a month for up to six months to victims who lost their homes.

Two Tennessee teenagers have been arrested and charged with arson for the fires that killed 14 people, injured 175 and destroyed more than 2,400 houses, businesses and other buildings.

Sevier County Mayor Larry Waters estimates the damage to be more than $500 million.

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