TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — As coronavirus cases continue to rise across the country, Americans were given a glimmer of hope this week when it comes to a vaccine – and they could have a country music legend to thank.
Dolly Parton appeared on the TODAY Show Tuesday morning and said she had learned a donation she made earlier this year played a role in the development of a vaccine that’s showing early success in protecting against the coronavirus.
Parton announced in April that she was making a $1 million donation to Vanderbilt to support researching a cure for coronavirus.
“My longtime friend Dr. Naji Abumrad, who’s been involved in research at Vanderbilt for many years, informed me that they were making some exciting advancements towards research of the coronavirus for a cure,” she wrote on Instagram at the time. “I am making a donation of $1 million to Vanderbilt toward that research and to encourage people that can afford it to make donations.”
The preliminary report on Moderna’s vaccine, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, lists the “Dolly Parton COVID-19 Research Fund” as a supporter along with several other organizations.
During her appearance on the TODAY Show, Parton said while she hadn’t read up too much about it yet, she had just been informed of the role her donation played shortly before going on the air.
“I’m just happy that anything I do can help somebody else,” Parton said. “And when I donated the money to the COVID fund, I just wanted it to do good. And evidently, it is! Let’s just hope we can find a cure real soon.”
While Parton is most commonly known for her success in the country music industry, she has also long been a philanthropist. She created the Dollywood Foundation in 1988 to help inspire students in her home county to achieve academic success. In the early years of the foundation, Parton launched an effort called the Buddy Program and promised every student in the 7th and 8th grade that she personally would give them $500 if they graduated high school.
The Dollywood Foundation helped distribute $1,000 a month for six months to families who lost their homes after devastating and deadly fires ripped through her home state of Tennessee in 2016.
In the late 90s, Parton also started a free book gifting program for children called The Imagination Library. Parton says she started the library because she wanted every preschool child to have their own collection of books. The Imagination Library started in Parton’s home county in Tennessee but has since expanded not only nationally, but globally.