NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Titans linebacker Avery Williamson grew up on a farm in the West Tennessee town of Milan.
From afar, he watched the devastation – and tragedies -- from the wildfires in East Tennessee.
And it's been painful for him to see.
"I paid attention to it a whole lot, just watching the news and things like that,'' Williamson said. "For it to be happening here in my home state, it's hard to see. I felt like I wanted to do something about it. I want to do anything I can to help."
Williamson and several other current and former players will take part in Dolly Parton's Smoky Mountains Rise: A Benefit for My People Fund, on Tuesday night.
In addition to Williamson, Titans running back DeMarco Murray, receiver Rishard Matthews, tackle Taylor Lewan and defensive lineman Jurrell Casey will take part in the telethon, in addition to former players Chris Hope, Brad Hopkins, Chris Sanders and Blaine Bishop. Titans cheerleaders Jennifer, Courtney, Johnsie, Travona and Kaitlin will also take calls. A large number of country music stars are also taking part in the event.
The call-in number to make a donation is: 1-866-CARE-MORE.
The benefit is from 7-10 p.m. and will be broadcast live on all four of Nashville television affiliates. It will also be carried on Great American Country and a half dozen radio stations, both local and satellite.
On Sunday at Nissan Stadium, the Titans presented a check for $144,270 to help victims of the East Tennessee fires. The team raised $44,270 internally, and the Titans Foundation and NFL Foundation each made a $50,000 donations to help those impacted.
In two East Tennessee resort towns, 14 people were killed and 150 were injured in the fires. More than 2,400 properties were damaged or destroyed. The fire roared through Great Smoky Mountains National Park before spreading into Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge.
"People lost lives, and homes,'' Williamson said. "There was significant damage there. I feel for those people. That is tough. I can't imagine losing loved ones and losing homes, so that is a tough situation to be in. So I really pray those people can recover and I pray for them and wish them the best.
"Hopefully we can raise a lot of money, and get people to call in and donate."
Through Dollywood Foundation, My People Fund provides $1,000 each month for up to six months to Sevier County families who lost their homes in the wildfires. 100% of donations will go directly to the families affected by the wildfires.