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‘Appalachia Rises’ raises $1.1 million for eastern Kentucky flood relief

Published: Mar. 8, 2021 at 8:16 PM EST
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LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) - Powered by major donors and hundreds of smaller contributions, the “Appalachia Rises” telethon on WKYT raised more than $1.1 million Monday evening to help those impacted by recent flooding.

“Eastern Kentucky is defined by faith and grit. Our region is home to the hardest working people who have long powered America, and they consistently rise to meet every challenge and move every obstacle created. Seeing how quickly people have banded together to help is a constant reminder why Appalachia is a region unlike any other,” said AppHarvest Founder & CEO Jonathan Webb who announced he would donate $500,000.

Other major donations included $200,000 from Toyota Kentucky and $100,000 from Joe and Kelly Craft. Each of the following made $10,000 contributions: The Hinkle Family Foundation, Blue Grass Community Foundation, The Jenna and Matthew Mitchell Foundation, Kiran Bhatraju and Sara Adland, Keeneland Association, and Appalachian Wireless.

Launched by Morehead-based AgTech-leader AppHarvest, the “Appalachia Rises” initiative brought together more than a half-dozen organizations, including the Foundation for Appalachian Kentucky, Appalachian Impact Fund, Appalachians for Appalachia, Blue Grass Community Foundation, WKYT, WYMT and New Frontier Outfitters.

Within hours of rainfall beginning to slow on March 1, more than a dozen counties declared states of emergency. Representing more than 175,000 Appalachians, the counties were soon joined by far more, as the dramatic need became clear as flood waters wiped out entire communities through Kentucky.

Residual effects, including mudslides and infrastructure collapse, have left many residents uprooted and, in some cases, homeless with essential businesses also closed due to damage. Compounding the difficulties, the unemployment rates in several affected counties are among Kentucky’s highest. Evacuations across the state have also driven thousands to overcrowded and underfunded shelters, while hospitals treat flood-related injuries alongside the ongoing pandemic.

“Appalachia Rises” marks the third WKYT-produced telethon to ever pass the million-dollar mark.

“The fact we come together and raised this much for those impacted by the floods in nothing short of impressive,” said WKYT Vice President and General Manager Jeff Anderson. “The generosity of the great people and businesses in Kentucky is truly remarkable. Thank you for helping us stand for Kentucky.”

To donate to the flood relief fund, visit https://appalachiarises.org with all proceeds being distributed by the Foundation for Appalachian Kentucky and Blue Grass Community Foundation. Funds will be targeted to individuals needing emergency relief, farmers and small businesses.

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