Back in April, the country music icon gave Vanderbilt University Medical Center $1 million for COVID-19 research. According to the Nashville university’s medical center, Parton made the gift “in honor of her longtime friend,” professor of surgery Naji Abumrad, MD, who she met in 2014 while she was treated at Vanderbilt following a car accident.
“Dolly’s amazing generosity is a source of inspiration and will have a lasting impact on the battle against COVID-19," said Jeff Balser, MD, PhD, President and CEO of Vanderbilt University Medical Center earlier this year. "She cares so much about helping others and we are very grateful for her ongoing support. These funds will help us complete promising research that can benefit millions in their battle with the virus.” That research seems to be panning out: her donation supported both a convalescent plasma study (treating infected people with plasma of people with antibodies), as well as the development of the Moderna vaccine, which so far has proved to be 94.5% effective against the virus. In fact, Parton is listed in the acknowledgments of the New England Journal of Medicine article about the new vaccine — a sentence I'd never thought I'd write, but here we are, and man, it's great.
Parton is well known for her philanthropy, having donated not only to Vanderbilt University’s Medical Center before (a gift to the cancer program in honor of Dr. Abumrad and her niece Hannah, who was treated for leukemia when she was young), but also for giving nearly 150 million children’s books through her Imagination Library, giving each Tennessee wildfire survivor a stipend of $1,000 a month, and more.
As if the singer wasn't generous enough already, she may be imparting another gift to the American people: posing for the cover of Playboy in January as part of both the magazine and Parton's 75th birthdays. She told 60 Minutes Australia in March that she would be up for it, and even would wear her same outfit as her October 1978 cover when she was 32 because her "boobs are the same."
Needless to say, in honor of this true patriot, we'll be starting a petition to change the national anthem to "Jolene," but instead we'll call it "Vaccine."