Dolly Parton
Knoxvile News Sentinel
May 21, 2007
Dolly sings to tune of $500,000
Money from benefit concert to go toward medical center
By Ansley Haman

SEVIERVILLE - Dolly Parton thanked the thousands of fans gathered in Smokies Park on Sunday night for spending "all that money" - an estimated $500,000 - for a new Fort Sanders Sevier Medical Center.

"I ain't worth it, but the folks in Sevier County are," Parton said of the price of tickets, which ranged from $33 to $150.

With Sunday night's concert proceeds, Parton is responsible for raising about $1 million for the new medical center, which will include a new cancer center and will be across the street from the current facility. Completion of the project is expected to be in the fall of 2009, said Amanda Brabson, marketing and communications manager for Fort Sanders Sevier Medical Center.

"All of my family has been down there at one time or another," Parton said of the hospital.

Parton dedicated her support of the new 200,000-square-foot medical center at the project's beginning in 2006. She worked with the Dr. Robert F. Thomas Foundation, where she is honorary chairwoman, on a $10 million capital campaign to personalize the planned Covenant Health facility, which will be at 720 Middle Creek Road.

Parton told Sunday night's crowd why she is so passionate about Thomas' legacy.

"He's the one that rode on horseback so many years ago, when I was a young'un back in them mountains," she said. "I was born and paid for with a sack of cornmeal."

Parton's theme park, Dollywood, and the Dixie Stampede, a dinner attraction with which she is affiliated, each contributed $250,000, said Debbie Dowling, executive director of the foundation.

Parton is not the only one in Sevier County who pitched in for the capital campaign, Dowling said. The employees of Fort Sanders Sevier Medical Center raised $300,000.

Dowling said she hopes to complete fundraising efforts by the end of summer.

"Everybody's excited about this," she said. "I just don't know of any other project that I can remember garnering this much support or interest. People wish we were well on our way to opening the doors."

Gordon Fee drove from Oak Ridge for the concert.

"We went to the first one out in the cow pasture," Fee said of the Robert F. Thomas fundraising events.

Fee's daughter-in-law, Lindsay, lives with her husband and two children in Sevierville and is eagerly awaiting the new hospital.

The capital project will provide funds for special medical center features that will make patients feel more at home during their stays, Brabson said.

The cost of the Covenant Health medical center is estimated to be more than $100 million, Brabson said. That doesn't include the $10 million from the foundation.

The capital project is designed to engage the community in their local hospital, she said.

"We could have built this hospital and not had community support, but we wanted people to get invested in this hospital and make it theirs," Brabson said. "In this Sevier County, community is everything."

The groundbreaking for the medical center is scheduled for 10 a.m. today.