Friends of Great Smoky Mountains National Park raised $192,157 Thursday night through its 18th annual “Friends Across the Mountains” telethon with help from event sponsors Dollywood, Mast General Store, Mountain Laurel Chalets, and Pilot Corporation. The cumulative total for all Friends of the Smokies’ telethons since 1995 is now nearly $2.7 million.
“As far as I am aware, the Smokies is the only national park that is fortunate enough to have its own two-state telethon. Over the years telethon funding has helped us to significantly increase our ability to protect the Park's flora and fauna and to improve services and facilities for our millions of visitors,” said Dale Ditmanson, Superintendent of Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
During the broadcast, Sugarland Cellars owner Don Collier presented a $5,000 check to the organization. This spring the Gatlinburg winery debuted a limited edition 100% East Tennessee Muscadine wine with a custom label by local artist Robert A. Tino. Along with 1,000 bottles of the wine, named ‘Dance of the Firefly’, artistic tiles featuring the label were also sold. Each sale generated a $5 donation to help Friends of the Smokies continue to preserve and protect the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
“This year’s event was a real team effort between our corporate partners, people who love the park in Tennessee, North and South Carolina, Georgia, and Kentucky, and all of our wonderful volunteers from both sides of the mountains who took hundreds of pledges during our one-hour broadcast,” says Friends of the Smokies President Jim Hart.
Telethon donations can still be made online at www.friendsofthesmokies.org to support more than $1 million of Park needs this year, including black bear, elk, and brook trout conservation, and historic preservation projects in Cades Cove, Elkmont, and Greenbrier.
Hiking Trails in Great Smoky Mountains National Park