Gatlinburg, Tennessee, has been a vacation destination for my family for many years. I remember, as a little girl, being mesmerized by the musical shows, the tourist attractions and the breathtaking scenery. I have family and many friends in that area, so when I heard about the wildfires that blazed through Sevier County, my heart ached.
Being from the mountains I can tell you that the love we have for our friends and neighbors runs deep. It was only a few short weeks ago that Pine Mountain in Kentucky, which is just across the state line from my home in Southwest Virginia, caught fire. While that fire started in Kentucky, it was so close that I could see the mountain engulfed in flames from my home. The fire started spreading and eventually worked its way into Virginia and was a little over a mile from my home. I was filled with fear for our community and the firefighters who were working so hard to put out the blaze. We were lucky. damage in my area was minimal and there were no fatalities. Then, a few weeks later Gatlinburg was nearly destroyed because of the lack of rain and dryness we have all been experiencing here in the South.
I mourn for the victims in Gatlinburg. I have such love for the Smoky Mountains, so I started thinking of ways I could give back and help volunteer for the community. It so happened that my friends at Pepper Palace are planning a fundraiser called the SMOKIES STRONG RELIEF BENEFIT, to take place at Hard Rock Café in Pigeon Forge on Sunday, December 18, from 2:00-6:00 p.m. I will perform, along with Stephen Goff & The Royals, a great band from that area. Santa and Mrs. Claus will be on hand to talk with the kids. Everyone is invited, so please spread the word throughout the Gatlinburg area! Admission is free, but donations of cash, non-perishable food, clothing andpersonal items will be accepted. For more information, visit https://www.facebook.com/PepperPalace1HotShop.