Dolly Parton was recently honored for her contributions in improving lives throughout Tennessee. The country legend was recognized by the Country Music Hall of Fame Leadership Tennessee with the first-ever Dolly Parton Excellence in Leadership Award on Aug. 11.
“My dream was to make as many people happy as I could in this life, and I am grateful to Leadership Tennessee and First Lady Crissy Haslam for recognizing our work done to improve the lives of all Tennesseans,” Dolly says in a statement. “Even more humbling is for decades to come the future leaders of Tennessee will receive an award with the Parton family name attached to it, and for that I am truly honored and thankful.”
The singer has gone out of her way to help Tennessee natives for decades. More recently, Dolly’s involvement in the Smoky Mountains Rise telethon helped to raise over $12.5 million for her My People Fund, which provided financial assistance to Tennessee locals following the devastation of the Gatlinburg wildfires in 2016.
“Tennessee has many talented sons and daughters but there are few who are as beloved as Dolly Parton,” First Lady Crissy Haslam, chair of the Fifth Anniversary Committee says. “And while she may be most known for her music, she has undoubtedly proved to be an exemplar of leadership through her generosity, humility, inclusiveness, expertise and passion. As a state, we are indebted to all that Dolly has done for Tennessee and its people; there is no one better suited for the very first Excellence in Leadership Award.”
Dolly has also worked to bring literacy to millions of children through her Imagination Library. The organization, which was founded in 1995, mails free books to infants until they begin school regardless of family income. Earlier this year, Dolly and her niece, Hannah Dennison, were honored by Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt for their generous contributions. Hannah was treated for leukemia as a child and following her recovery, Dolly donated a $1 million to the Children’s Hospital’s Pediatric Cancer Program. The hospital honored the pair at a dedication for the newly named Hannah Dennison Butterfly Garden.