Editorial: Support the Friends of the Smokies telethon Thursday to help our national park

Aug. 14, 2013 @ 11:05 PM

If you can bear to give up “Wheel of Fortune” and “Jeopardy” for one night, you can make a big difference in the most visited national park in America. Friends of the Smokies hosts its 19th annual Friends Across the Mountains Telethon Thursday to benefit the national park.

This year’s broadcast will take place from 7-8 p.m. on WBIR-TV Channel 10 in Knoxville. It has a long history as the only telethon for a national park, and has raised over $2.5 million over the years.

“This broadcast provides a great chance to learn more about the tremendous national resource that’s right in our own backyard,” said Friends President Jim Hart. “We are very thankful for the generous financial support that viewers provide each year to help the park.” 

Friends of the Smokies supports the National Park Service in its mission to preserve and protect Great Smoky Mountains National Park by raising funds and public awareness, and providing volunteers for needed projects. Tune in to the telethon and between pitches you can see what great work Friends does and how much good the money does. You’ll witness many of the park’s needs which Friends is funding this year, including more than $1.1 million to support education, conservation, recreation, and historic preservation in 2013. Current projects include continued rehabilitation of the Chimney Tops Trail by the Trails Forever crew, ongoing suppression of the hemlock woolly adelgid, and funding for Parks as Classrooms environmental education programs for more than 18,000 students.

It’s once a year and it is important. Those who live in this area know how important the Smokies are not just to tourism and the economy, but in preserving half a million acres of wilderness and trails and other attractions. Play a role in making the park a great asset. Watch the telethon and give what you can.