Smoky Mountains Rise telethon

Lorraine Jordan (left) with Dolly Parton and her cohosts Shawn Parr and Elaina D Smith at the Smoky Mountains Rise telethon on December 13

This report from the Smoky Mountains Rise telethon on December 13 to benefit the parts of east Tennessee devastated by wildfires, is a contribution from Lorraine Jordan. She was on hand for the event, where she passed along a check for the funds raised at her Christmas in the Smokies festival last weekend in Pigeon Forge.

I was honored to be asked to help out at the Dollywood Foundation telethon at Nove Enyertainment in Nashville, TN last night. When I arrived, I was immediately taken to the phone room. There I was introduced to Paula Deen, and listened in as she took donations from people calling in. Before long I felt comfortable enough to take phone calls myself.

I soon found out that it was very hard to keep up. As soon as you got finished with one donation, the phone would ring again. I was surrounded by some of the most talented artists around. Chris Stapleton was answering the phone right in front of me. Beside me was John Conlee, Lee Greenwood, and Darrin Vincent.

The Tennessee Titans football team was represented, and the cast of the hit TV show Nashville was there as well. In the next room were the artists who were performing live. I saw Reba McIntyre, Alabama, Big and Rich, Kenny Rogers, Amy Grant, Hank Williams, Jr, and the list goes on.

Dolly would come out to the phone room to go live on the show to accept walk in donations. Soon I was called up by the producers to step away from my phone and make the donation I had brought.

My festival fans had worked hard, and most bands had donated product to help out. We held a silent auction with autographed guitars, quilts, rental properties, and gift baskets we put together. We donated all our tee shirt sales and proceeds from walk-in general admission tickets. We held 50/50 drawings and passed a bucket to collect money.

Over the weekend, Christmas in the Smokies bluegrass festival raised $10,000 and I was honored to hand it over to Dolly Parton for her My People fund. On live TV she made a statement thanking the bluegrass folks. I was proud and honored to hear this. Today we will hear the amount that was raised at the telethon. I’m hearing that it is in the millions.

With this money the Dollywood Foundation will be giving each family that lost their homes in the fire $1,000 each month for 6 months.

Christmas in the Smokies bluegrass festival challenges every festival this year to get your fans and bands involved and to continue to help Dolly’s My People Fund. Many folks in east Tennessee have lost everything, but they are mountain strong.

It’s not too late to make a donation online.

Rhonda Vincent also shared a couple of photos from last night’s event, one of her performing on set and another answering phones.