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Dolly sits down in new interview with WBIR

East Tennessee's queen was in town over the weekend, and shared her thoughts on her involvement with the Olympics, her philanthropy efforts and how faith fuels her.

SEVIER COUNTY, Tenn. — When Dolly Parton comes back home to East Tennessee, she treasures every moment she gets to spend in the Smoky Mountains. This past weekend, she reflected on every aspect of the word "champion" with 10News Anchor Katie Inman.

Parton was in town to receive some new hardware at Dollywood, during the annual Golden Ticket Awards, which were hosted at the park. While the park won five distinctions on Saturday, Parton was honored alongside her two business partners, Jack and Peter Herschend, as Industry Legends.

Opening her namesake park in the 1980s was a dream of Dolly's, and it's one she has watched evolve, grow and flourish over the years. While she has claimed the title of champion for countless awards, distinctions and honors, she says she can't pick a favorite.

"I'm proud of all of it," Parton said. "I can honestly say, it's just like my life in the music, I'm proud of every award I've ever won, for any song or anything like that, but at Dollywood, we're just so proud that it's done so well."

While in the area over the weekend, Parton got to tour the new HeartSong Lodge & Resort, which is planned to open in early November. She said she is excited for guests to experience all the new things the park and properties have to offer this year.

"I think people, they love the DreamMore Resort, they love the park, they love the food, they love the shows, they love that family atmosphere where you can actually be proud to bring your family and know there's something for everybody to do, and that everybody's gonna have a good time," Parton said.

Parton is also lending her voice to NBC's coverage of the Olympics in 2024, with her rendition of "We Are the Champions." The song is part of her new rock album, set to be released in November, called "Rockstar."

The audio and video of Parton singing it, along with clips of past Olympic events, started airing just a month ago. When asked if she would be involved with any other Olympic coverage in Paris, Parton says there's nothing confirmed yet.

"[NBC] heard wind that I had recorded that song, and so they said, 'hey, why don't we do a video of that and why don't we use that in some of our commercials for the Olympics?' So, I haven't heard anything more, but you never know," Parton said. "I might get a chance to sing it over there for all I know. but for now, we're just using it as part of the promotion and doing commercials for the Olympics."

Parton is also a champion for children, with her nonprofit, The Imagination Library. This year, the organization reached a milestone of 200 million books gifted and recently expanded to Washington State. Parton hopes to keep that momentum going.

"Our dream is to be statewide in every state in America, and we've already got tons of them, and we are very happy to be able to put those books in the hands of that many children," Parton said. "I'm very proud of that program. I'm excited about every milestone that we make."

As a philanthropist at heart, every bloom in Parton's life, both personally and professionally, helps to brighten people's day. In her iconic DeWitt Tours throughout Dollywood when she's in town, she is flanked with fresh flowers. After those parades are finished, she donates those stems to Knoxville nonprofit Random Acts of Flowers.

Random Acts of Flowers uses those blooms to create bouquets, which are then delivered to patients in hospitals and nursing homes in the area, at no cost to the patient. Parton said she's always loved giving back in that way, and it delights her to know those donations go to making other people happy.

"We've always tried to do that, even when I was on the road years ago, and I'd get all those flowers from doing one-nighters in my dressing room, and I thought, 'Oh, I can't take all of them on the bus, what am I gonna do?' So we started sending them out to old age homes and the hospitals and to children's hospitals, something to just make people happy," Parton said. "The sweetest gift is a gift twice given, as they say, so I always think that there's so much truth in that. It makes me feel good that something that has made me happy, can make someone else happy." 

Parton also shared that while she constantly has a full plate, and countless projects going on, she finds strength to get through each day by tapping into her faith in God.

"I always say I live on creative and spiritual energy, and that's what keeps me going, and that's a mighty force, both of those," Parton said. "You combine those two, even when you don't feel like working, when you physically don't feel like it, you can always rise above, you know with that spiritual and creative energy, and I draw and pull from that all the time, and I'm grateful for everything good that's ever happened to me."


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