Kenny Chesney, CMA Team to Donate $500K to Tennessee Wildfire Relief
East Tennessee native Kenny Chesney is teaming up with the CMA to support his home state after the devastating wildfires that roared through the region in late November.
Chesney and CMA are each donating $250,000 to help families impacted by the fires, a portion of which will be set aside for Dolly Parton’s My People Fund. Parton, who grew up in the Smoky Mountains area, established the fund to bring relief by providing $1,000 per month for up to six months to each family who lost their home in the fires.
"Growing up in East Tennessee, the only thing greater than the beauty of the region is the heart of the people who live there," says Chesney in a press release. "It is devastating to think of what’s been lost in terms of the fire, but overwhelming for the families facing rebuilding their lives -- in many cases -- from scratch. I’m appreciative that CMA shares my hope that these families can feel our love at a time of such tragedy."
The wildfires, which were fuelled by a drought in the area, claimed 14 lives and damaged or destroyed more than 2,400 homes and businesses in the Gatlinburg, Tenn., area. The rest of the funds from the CMA will be distributed where the need is the greatest, in the hope of reaching as many impacted people as possible. The CMA will work with local agencies to identify organizations that are providing valuable and necessary services.
“Our goal is to fulfill specific needs by working with organizations like Dolly’s My People Fund that have a clear mission and the structure to assist a wide range of people by providing a broad range of resources,” says CMA Chief Executive Officer Sarah Trahern.
Many country artists are also joining up with Parton for a telethon airing Dec. 13 on GAC, RFD, AXS TV and USA Today National Networks at 8PM ET. The lineup for Smoky Mountains Rise: A Benefit for the My People Fund includes Big & Rich, Chris Janson, Alison Krauss, Reba McEntire, Montgomery Gentry, Chris Stapleton, LoCash, Chris Young and more.
“My home in the Smoky Mountains of Tennessee is some place special,” Parton says. “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.”
Chesney posted a video on Dec. 5 expressing his condolences to families impacted by the fires, noting his commitment to trying to help in any way he can.
“I just want to say to everybody in East Tennessee and to everybody back where I come from in Gatlinburg, Tenn., that I am thinking about you,” he said. “I am loving you really hard right now. East Tennessee is my heart and my soul, and how I grew up. And I realize now that everybody over there is hurting. I want you to know that you’re in my thoughts and in my prayers and along with a lot of other people’s help, we’re going to try everything we can to try and make this better.”
Contribute to the My People Fund by mail at the address below:
My People Fund, c/o Dollywood Foundation
111 Dollywood Lane
Pigeon Forge, TN 37863.
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