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Outdoors Annual Smokies telethon makes big difference for park visitors

Great Smoky Mountains National Park’s Mountain Farm Museum will be one of the many park sites a North Carolina family will be visiting during the telethon on WLOS-TV Channel 13, Thursday, 7-8 p.m. Photo by Sam HobbsFor each of the last 17 years, Friends of Great Smoky Mountains National Park has had the unique opportunity to host a one-hour prime time broadcast to tell more than one million households that their support matters. The annual Friends Across the Mountains telethon has raised more than $2.2 million since 1995.

On Thursday, Aug. 11, viewers from Georgia, Kentucky, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Tennessee can tune in to WBIR-TV Channel 10 out of Knoxville or Asheville’s WLOS-TV Channel 13 to learn how being a ‘Friend of the Smokies’ makes a difference for the country’s most-visited national park.

The one-hour fundraising event from 7 to 8 p.m. will focus on the recreational opportunities in Great Smoky Mountains National Park and the benefits of being a friend of the Smokies. Learn about where to go and what to do when visiting this 500,000+ acre getaway with friends and family members.

While doing his nightly exercise at home three years ago, Les Love of Weaverville, N.C. was inspired to give generously to the Friends Across the Mountains telethon. Love paused on his rowing machine during the broadcast and consulted his wife about making a gift. He recalls, “I said, ‘Cathy, we use this park all the time. I think we ought to give back for every time we’ve crossed a stream and there’s been a bridge there so we could stop and enjoy the view, or camped in the backcountry and had a cabling system at our campsite to hoist our food away from black bears.’ She wholeheartedly agreed.”

“Becoming a member of Friends of the Smokies during the telethon is a great way to say ‘Thank You’ to our national park for the wonderful memories folks have created there,” explains Friends of the Smokies’ President Jim Hart. “A membership of $25 pays for itself with discounts to local attractions that families love, plus it makes a big difference to black bears, elk, brook trout, hemlock trees and so much more.”

Since 1993, supporters of Friends of Great Smoky Mountains National Park have raised more than $34 million to help protect wildlife, improve hiking trails and backcountry shelters, help fund the Junior Ranger and Parks as Classrooms programs and purchase a new search and rescue vehicle for park rangers.

For more information, visit www.FriendsOfTheSmokies.org. To donate to the 2011 Friends Across the Mountains Telethon go to http://shop.FriendsOfTheSmokies.org/Telethon.html.


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