Friends of Great Smoky Mountains National Park raised $201,423 on Thursday night through its 19th annual “Friends Across the Mountains” telethon, thanks to hundreds of callers and help from sponsors Dollywood, Mast General Store, Pilot Corporation, and SmartBank. Since 1995 Friends of the Smokies telethons have raised more than $2.9 million.
“We extend our sincere thanks to each person that pledged support during the annual telethon. Your stewardship allows us to better meet the growing challenges in caring for park resources and providing opportunities for visitors and we thank you,” said Dale Ditmanson, superintendent of Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
During the broadcast, Sugarland Cellars owner Don Collier presented a $20,000 check to the organization. Since the spring of 2012 the Gatlinburg winery has offered five limited edition varietals with custom labels created by renowned artist Robert A. Tino. Each release is paired with Tino’s matching artistic tiles featuring each label’s artwork. Every bottle generates a $5 donation to help Friends of the Smokies in its mission to preserve and protect GSMNP.
“The generous response to this year’s Friends Across the Mountains Telethon is a continuing testimony to the love that people have for the Smokies and how very important it is to our region,” said Friends of the Smokies President Jim Hart.
Telethon donations can still be made online at www.friendsofthesmokies.org
to help fund more than $1 million of Park needs this year, to protect black bears, heal hemlock trees, and preserve historic log cabins and churches from Cades Cove to Cataloochee Valley.