Dolly Parton just got $100 million in Jeff Bezos and Lauren Sanchez’s money to funnel to the charitable organizations of her choice — including her own foundation.
The “9 to 5” singer joins the ranks of chef Jose Andres and political commentator Van Jones, who were last year recipients of the Bezos Family Foundation’s Courage and Civility Award.
“The woman you are about to meet perfectly embodies these ideals,” Bezos said on Saturday at an event where he and his wife Sanchez introduced Barton to those assembled. “She gives with her heart. What she has done for children, literacy and so many other things, it is unbelievable.”
“What? Did I say $100 million?” Barton laughed, then got serious.
“When people are in a position to help, you should help. And I know I’ve always said, I try to put my money where my heart is, and I think you do the same,” he said, referring to Bezos. “I will do my best to do good things with this money. Thank you, Jeff.”
Sanchez said the award “honors leaders who aim high, who find solutions and who always do so with grace.”
Parton famously donated $1 million in 2020 to efforts that resulted from Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine, giving the money to Vanderbilt University’s Vaccine Research Fund.
“I’m glad anything I do can help someone else, and when I donated money to the COVID fund, I just wanted to do good, and obviously it is,” an amazed Parton said on “Today” a second years ago after learning what her money helped with. his creation. “Let’s just hope we find a real cure soon.”
But this is only the tip of the Barton Charity Iceberg, which has been piling up for decades.
Founded in 1988 with the goal of helping children in Sevier County, Tenn. The program, inspired by Parton’s father, who was unable to read, sends children a book a month, free, from birth through their first year at school. It began focusing on the children of Sevier County and has grown to target children in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, the Republic of Ireland and Australia, sending out more than a million books each month.
It also distributed several scholarships to students of Sevier County and created the Chasing Rainbows Award to honor a teacher each year who has overcome personal hardships in life and is now making a difference in children’s lives. Every teacher gets a week off at Barton Dollwood theme park in Pigeon Forge, Tenn.
In 2007, Parton donated $500,000 from a concert and, through two of her companies, pledged another $500,000 that was set aside to build a new hospital and cancer center in her home country. LeConte Medical Center, whose women’s health operation is named after Parton, opened in 2010.
In 2016, I participated in two telethons to help families who lost their homes due to the wildfires that ravaged the Great Smoky Mountains, eventually giving $10,000 each to nearly 900 displaced families through the Dollywood Foundation’s Grassroots Fund.
In 2017, she gave $1 million to Monroe Carrell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt in Nashville, and a year later created a butterfly garden at the hospital in honor of her niece who was successfully treated for leukemia at the hospital in 1990.
Parton even created a sanctuary for bald eagles in her Dollywood theme park.
“Jeff and I are so proud to share that we have a new winner of the Bezos Award for Courage and Civility – a woman who gives from her heart and leads with love and compassion in every aspect of her work,” Sanchez wrote on Instagram Saturday. “We can’t wait to see all the good you’ll do with this $100 million prize, @DollyParton.”
Bezos has previously said that award winners are free to do whatever they like with the money “without strings attached,” whether that’s giving it all to their own foundations or passing it on to other charities.