Telethon raises $200K for the Smokies

Friends of the Smokies’ 23rd annual telethon Aug. 23 raised $208,321 in donations to support the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, bringing the total raised since the first telethon in 1995 to more than $3.7 million.

“Time and time again, the people who love this special place continue to step up and help us care for it. We are so grateful for the Friends and the Smokies community who have responded with such generosity,” said Cassius Cash, park superintendent.

The telethon celebrated the launch of a new capital campaign to replace and upgrade the park’s emergency radio systems, a need brought to light by the recently released review of actions taken during the Chimney Tops 2 Fire in November 2016. The effort will require $2.5 million leveraging $1.25 million in federal funds and grants. The upgraded radios will allow rangers to respond more quickly and effectively to emergency situations in the park.

On top of the radio upgrades, Friends of the Smokies will seek to continue its nearly $1.4 million in annual support of the park for projects such as continued fire recovery efforts including trail repairs and invasive species removal.

Telethon donations included $30,000 from Sugarland Cellars, $15,000 from SmartBank and support from sponsors Mast General Store, Dollywood and Pilot Flying J.

Donations can still be made online at or by calling 828.452.0720.

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