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Parton Pledges $500,000 to Hospital

December 13, 2006 GMT

PIGEON FORGE, Tenn. (AP) _ Honoring the country doctor who delivered her, Dolly Parton pledged $500,000 to a $90 million hospital and cancer center in her Smoky Mountains hometown.

``I have wonderful, wonderful memories of Dr. (Robert F.) Thomas,″ Parton said Tuesday in a surprise appearance at a dinner hosted by health care provider Covenant Health to celebrate state approval of the new hospital.

``I know the grand vision of this hospital would have made Dr. Thomas proud,″ the country music star said of the physician who delivered her in 1946.

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``Daddy paid him with a sack of cornmeal,″ she laughed. ``And I’ve always joked that I’ve been raking in the dough ever since.″

But she hasn’t hesitated to share that wealth, particularly with her native Sevier County.

Parton, 60, is honorary chairman of the Dr. Robert F. Thomas Foundation, which plans to raise $10 million for a 79-bed hospital and cancer patient center in Sevierville.

On Tuesday, she pledged $500,000 from her Dixie Stampede dinner theater and the Dollywood Foundation, a charitable organization spun off from her Dollywood theme park.

She also will perform a concert May 20 at a minor league baseball park in Sevierville, with proceeds going to the hospital.

``I felt like it was time to step up and do a little more,″ Parton said.

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On the Net:

Dolly Parton: http://www.dollywood.com/

Covenant Health: http://www.covenanthealth.com/