Dolly Parton Donates $1 Million to Pediatric Infectious Disease Research but She Doesn’t Want You to Make a Big Deal out of It

TL;DR:

  • Dolly Parton’s donation to Vanderbilt University Medical Center’s Division of Pediatric Infectious Diseases
  • This isn’t the first time Parton’s donated to VUMC
  • The Queen of Country’s thoughts on charity

Dolly Parton is a helper. A helper with a lot of money. Adding to the long list of the Queen of Country’s charitable donations is a $1 Million donation to pediatric infectious disease research at Vanderbilt University Medical Center. Here’s what she has to say about the donation, her previous medical research donation history, and Parton’s thoughts on giving back.

Dolly Parton, who recently donated $1 million to pediatric infectious disease research, waves to the crowd at the 57th Academy of Country Music Awards.
Dolly Parton | Mike Coppola/Getty Images

Dolly Parton’s pediatric infectious disease research donation

“I love all children. No child should ever have to suffer, and I’m willing to do my part to try and keep as many of them as I can as healthy and safe as possible,” Parton said in a release about her donation.

The $1 million is going to VUMC’s Division of Pediatric Infectious Diseases and research dedicated to understanding how viruses and bacteria cause diseases, their resistance to antibiotics, and how to prevent and treat infections.

“We are deeply honored by Dolly’s contribution to our research mission,” said Mark Denison, MD, professor of Pediatrics and director of the Division of Pediatric Infectious Diseases. “For over 40 years our division has been a national and international leader in studies for the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of life-threatening infections, and this gift will accelerate our work and support new ideas.”

Dolly Parton’s past donations to Vanderbilt University Medical Center

This isn’t the first time Parton has made a sizable donation to VUMC. In 2020, she donated $1 million to the medical center to fund research that eventually resulted in the Moderna vaccine.

The singer has also donated to the Monroe Carell Jr Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt Pediatric Cancer Program. This donation was made to honor her niece Hannah Dennison, who was successfully treated for leukemia there, and her friend Professor of Surgery Dr. Naji Abumrad.

“Dolly’s previous support to infectious disease research, and also our pediatric cancer program, has already saved countless lives,” said Jeff Balser, MD, PhD, President and CEO of VUMC and Dean of the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, of Parton’s recent donation. “This new gift will bolster our defenses against future threats to the safety of this region and society as a whole. It speaks volumes about her passion for people, and we couldn’t be more thankful.”

The ‘Jolene’ singer’s thoughts on giving back

Parton is no stranger to pouring her money into causes she thinks are worth fighting for. Last year, the Dollywood Foundation raised $700,000 for flood victims after a downpour wrecked parts of Tennessee. She also helped save eagles from extinction. And who could forget the Imagination library, which has donated approximately 170 million books to children to promote literacy.

“I’m kind of addicted to the feeling of giving,” Parton told People in 2021. “Knowing that I’m doing something good for someone else.”

At the same time, though, Parton says she doesn’t want people to put her on a pedestal for giving back.

“It’s like, I am not all that,” she said. “I’m glad that I stand for enough stuff to where I’m not the worst person in the world.”

“But I don’t want to be worshiped, because there’s a scripture in my Bible that talks about idol worship,” she added. “And I see that happening all the time with movie stars and these celebrities. People literally worship them more than they worship God. And I just — I cringe at it sometimes.”

So no need to throw her a parade. But if Parton’s generosity inspires others with the means to give, then all the better.

“If I can set an example, then that’s great,” she said.

RELATED: Why Dolly Parton Just Eats Potato Chips When Recording an Album