Appreciation for Dolly Parton

Katie Beilstein

What does a widespread pandemic have to do with a country music legend?

Well normally the answer would be nothing. Unless, of course, you count Dolly Parton.

Whether you are a fan of her music or not, you have to admit that the music legend’s continuous giving nature is more than warranting of respect. Parton first donated to Vanderbilt University for its vaccine trials back in February and March of 2020. This was far before the absolute wave of the Coronavirus spread through America, barely at the beginnings of the pandemic and major restrictions. Parton’s million dollar donation was put toward three different research projects at Vanderbilt University. One of these projects led to the Moderna vaccine, which is estimated to be about 94.5% effective against the Coronavirus. The donation Parton made (as well as her efforts to persuade her fans to do the same) helped lead to significant progress towards the vaccine’s creation. Without such funding, researching synthetic antibodies to combat the virus would have been fairly difficult.

This is not Dolly Parton’s first venture into philanthropy either. In 1988, Parton founded the Dollywood Foundation in an effort to help reduce the drop-out rate in her home county’s high school. This effort was initially centered around keeping kids in school for longer, as well as convincing the overall community to take pride and care toward education in rural areas. Parton also founded the Imagination Library in 1995. The program, dedicated once again towards the education of children, provided monthly books to children up to the age of five. What initially started as a movement in Parton’s home Sevier County, grew to an international basis. To this day, the Imagination Library continues to provide books for young children to enjoy. And, after substantial fires ravaged Sevier County, Parton distributed money to families who had lost their homes.

Dolly Parton’s contributions span not only to her home in Tennessee but to the rest of the world. Even in situations where she could have stood idly by, she still found a means to help other people. Recent data has shown that the Moderna vaccine has been given to about 22 million Americans, helping stop the devastating rage of the pandemic. And, although the fight against the virus is not over, it is important to take a look back at the people getting involved to stop the virus any way they can. These people, whether they be contributing toward large research projects or simply wearing a mask, help compose the very spirit of hope even amidst great adversity.