Dolly Parton just got $100 million of Jeff Bezos and Lauren Sanchez’s money to send to the charities of her choice, including her own foundation.
The ‘9 to 5’ singer joins chef José Andrés and political commentator Van Jones, who last year received the Courage and Civility Award from the Bezos Family Foundation for the first time.
“The woman you are about to meet embodies these ideals so thoroughly,” Bezos said Saturday at an event when he and his wife Sanchez introduced Parton to those in attendance. “She gives with her heart. What she’s done for kids and literacy and so many other things, it’s just incredible.
“What? Did you say $100 million?” Parton said with a laugh. Then she got serious.
“If people are able 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,” she said, referring to Bezos. “I will do my best to do good things with this money. Thank you, Jeff.”
Sanchez said the award “recognizes leaders who aim high, find solutions and always do so with courtesy.”
Parton is known to have donated $1 million to the effort that resulted in the Moderna vaccine against COVID-19 in 2020, donating the money to Vanderbilt University’s Vaccine Research Fund.
“I’m just happy that anything I do can help someone else, and when I donated the money to the COVID fund, I just wanted it to do well, and obviously it does,” a surprised Parton told the ” Today” show two years ago after learning what helped create her money. “Let’s hope we find a cure soon.”
But that’s just the tip of Parton’s philanthropic iceberg, which has been building for decades.
Her Dollywood Foundation—founded in 1988 with the goal of helping children in Sevier County, Tennessee achieve educational success—turned into her Imagination Library in 1995. one month free from birth to the first year of school. It started with a focus on children from Sevier County and has grown to include children in the US, Canada, UK, Republic of Ireland and Australia, shipping over a million books each month.
She has also distributed numerous scholarships to Sevier County students and created the Chasing Rainbows Award to recognize each year a teacher who has overcome personal difficulties in life and is now making a difference in children’s lives. Each teacher gets a week’s vacation at Parton’s Dollywood theme park in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee.
In 2007, Parton donated $500,000 from a benefit concert and pledged another $500,000 through two of her companies to build a new hospital and cancer center in her home country. The LeConte Medical Center, which named its women’s health surgery after Parton, opened in 2010.
In 2016, she participated in two telethons to help families who lost their homes to wildfires that swept through the Great Smoky Mountains, ultimately donating $10,000 each to approximately 900 displaced families through the Dollywood Foundation’s My People Fund.
In 2017, she donated $1 million to the Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt in Nashville, and a year later established a butterfly garden at the hospital in honor of a niece who was successfully treated for leukemia at the hospital in 1990.
Parton even established a sanctuary for bald eagles at her Dollywood theme park.
“Jeff and I are so proud to share that we have a new Bezos Courage and Civility Award winner – a woman who gives with 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’re going to do with this $100 million award, @DollyParton.”
Prize winners are free to do whatever they want with the “non-binding” money, whether it’s all to their own foundations or passing it on to other charities, Bezos previously said.