Friends of the Smokies hosts the 22nd annual Friends Across the Mountains Telethon to benefit Great Smoky Mountains National Park on Wednesday night. The event has a long history as the only telethon for a national park, and has raised more than $3.2 million.
“Later this week, on August 25, the National Park Service marks 100 years of protecting America’s most special places,” said Great Smoky Mountains National Park Superintendent Cassius Cash, who will make an appearance during the broadcast. “I can’t think of a better place to celebrate this incredible milestone than in the Smokies and I am honored by the continued support of our communities and the Friends of the Smokies who enable us to better care for this beautiful park each year.”
This year’s fundraiser will air on Wednesday, Aug. 24, 2016, just one day before the centennial anniversary of the National Park Service.
The telethon will be broadcast live from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m. on WBIR-TV Channel 10 in Knoxville and WLOS-TV Channel 13 in Asheville. Dollywood, Mast General Store, Tennessee State Bank, Pilot Flying J, and The Lodge at Buckberry Creek have generously sponsored the telethon, with enthusiastic volunteer support from First Tennessee Bank, Home Federal Bank, and Tennessee State Bank.
“This telethon is the perfect opportunity for the people of East Tennessee and Western North Carolina to come together and protect the amazing treasure right in their backyard,” said Friends of the Smokies President Jim Hart. “We are grateful for the generous and loyal support that viewers provide each year to help preserve the Great Smoky Mountains.”
Last year’s Friends Across the Mountains Telethon raised more than $202,000.
This year, viewers will see many of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park needs that Friends of the Smokies is funding, more than $840,000 to support education, conservation, recreation, and historic preservation. Current projects include rehabilitation of the Alum Cave Trail by the Trails Forever crew, ongoing suppression of the hemlock woolly adelgid and other invasive pests, supporting black bear and elk management, and funding for Parks as Classrooms environmental education programs for more than 18,000 Tennessee and North Carolina students.
Donations can be made online now at www.friendsofthesmokies.org, by calling Friends’ toll-free telethon hotline 844-524-1611 during the Friends Across the Mountains broadcast to make a pledge over the phone, or calling Friends of the Smokies during regular business hours to ask for a donation form to be mailed to you (Waynesville, N.C. office: 828-452-0720; Kodak, Tenn. office: 865-932-4794).
Photo: NPS Photo