As if we needed one more reason to adore her.
By Alex Dew
The unique zeitgeist created by the coronavirus pandemic has made it hard for a lot of celebrities on social media, who have found their posts met with disgust and derision by a general public that is living in a far different reality than they are. “Celebrity culture is burning,” proclaimed the New York Times last month. Celebrities posting trite statements about how we’re “all in this together” from their Beverly Hills mansions come off as infuriatingly out of touch to many Americans. But while many celebrities have failed to respond to the coronavirus pandemic in a meaningful way, others have used their resources to actually help solve the crisis. Among those is Dolly Parton, who pledged $1 million to aid coronavirus vaccine research.
In 2014, Parton survived a car accident and was treated by Dr. Naji Abumrad at the Vanderbilt University Medical Center. Ambumrad now runs the Vanderbilt Institute for Infection, Immunology and Inflammation, where he is working on a coronavirus vaccine. Ambumrad and Parton stayed close after he treated her, and she recently announced that she has donated $1 million to help fund his vaccine efforts. The team at Vanderbilt is one of 52 universities, firms, and agencies currently working a coronavirus vaccine worldwide.
Parton has also launched a YouTube series for children, titled “Goodnight with Dolly,” where she reads bedtime stories in an effort to give exhausted parents a break. She has been a life-long advocate for reading, donating $130 million in books to kids through her charity Imagination Library.
“I think when this passes, we’re all going to be better people,” Dolly said in a recent Instagram video. “Just keep the faith, don’t be too scared….”
The other celebrities putting their money where their mouths are include Blake Lively and Ryan Reynolds, who donated $1 million to Feeding America and Food Banks Canada, Russell Wilson and Ciara, who donated a million meals to Food Lifeline, and Arnold Schwarzenegger, who donated $1 million to a GoFundMe for frontline responders, among many others. While celebrities will never be able to relate to the struggles faced by most Americans through the pandemic, they are in a position to use their platforms and resources to help save lives. As the pandemic continues with little signs of slowing down, hopefully, more celebrities will follow the example of Dolly Parton and these others. Writing a check does a lot more good than posting a poolside selfie.