Dolly Parton raises $500,000 for hospital

/ Source: The Associated Press

Dolly Parton told thousands of fans at a benefit concert that she wasn’t as important as her cause — a new hospital for her native Sevier County.

Tickets for the Sunday show at Smokies Park ranged from $33 to $150. The estimated $500,000 raised will go to a new Fort Sanders Sevier Medical Center, cancer center and medical office.

Thanking the audience for spending “all that money,” Parton said: “I ain’t worth it, but the folks in Sevier County are.”

Parton’s Dollywood theme park and Dixie Stampede dinner theater also pledged $250,000 each to the $110 million project, which broke ground Monday. It is expected to open in late 2009.

The 61-year-old country artist and actress is passionate about the new hospital not only because “all of my family has been down there at one time or another,” but also to honor the country doctor who brought her into the world.

Parton is honorary chairwoman of the Dr. Robert F. Thomas Foundation, which is coordinating a $10 million capital campaign to help the new hospital. The concert proceeds and contributions from Dollywood and Dixie Stampede will go to that campaign.