Friends of the Smokies telethon tops goal

Friends of Great Smoky Mountains National Park recently raised $201,430 through its 16th annual “Friends Across the Mountains” telethon.

The event topped the $200,000 mark for the fifth year in a row. The total for all “Friends Across the Mountains” telethons since 1995 is now nearly $2.5 million.

This year’s broadcast focused on construction at the Park’s new Oconaluftee Visitor Center in North Carolina, the successful reintroduction of Cataloochee’s elk herd with its Elk Bugle Corps volunteers, and the Friends’ Trails Forever endowment.

“We think this is the only telethon benefiting a national park, For 16 years, telethon funding has protected hemlocks, strengthened Parks as Classrooms and improved our visitors’ experiences in so many ways,” said Dale Ditmanson, superintendent of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

In the words of telethon supporters Howard and Kristin Farrington of Loudon, “We treasure having the Smokies in our backyard. Driving, hiking, biking, viewing. So glad we live nearby.”

Since 1993, the not-for-profit Friends of the Smokies organization has raised more than $30 million to help maintain Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Donations can always be made to Friends of the Smokies by calling 800-845-5665 or visiting

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