Brothers find light in Dolly Parton’s “My People Fund”

Country superstar Dolly Parton created the “My People Fund” to help victims of the 2016 Gatlinburg wildfires.
Published: Nov. 27, 2017 at 1:09 PM EST
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Twin brothers Zackary and Beau MacLellan come home each day with a peace of mind one year after the Gatlinburg wildfires.

The night of November 28, 2016, they weren't aware of the chaos surrounding them until they received a knock on the door.

"We were so caught off guard. The cop was like, 'You need to leave, like now,'" Zackary MacLellan reflected.

The brothers were home early from their jobs at the Sky Lift, which shut down early due to clouds of smoke.

Minutes later, they said they noticed a red glow in the sky that had overcome the smoke as they left their home for the last time.

"You could literally sense something bad was coming," Zackary MacLellan remembered.

The brothers were then homeless and only had a few pieces of clothing on their backs. By morning, they received more bad news.

"We found out our job has burned down as well. So we're all just frozen in time. What do we do? This is the perfect storm," Beau MacLellan said. "We can flight, get out of Tennessee and stay with some people in Georgia, or we can just stay here and see what happens."

Country superstar Dolly Parton put the MacLellan twins and other wildfire survivors at ease with the announcement of the My People Fund.

Volunteers from around the world calmed the fears of victims as they donated millions of dollars to the relief fund.

The My People Fund gave families thousands of dollars and a new place for the MacLellan brothers to live.

"That Dolly money, it gave us a new light of a clear blue morning," Beau MacLellan said.

That light was found in the darkest moments of their hometown's history.

The brothers carry their work uniforms as a reminder of how far they've come since that night. And, it's the days after that night that they said gives them a new light in life.

“It brought a tear to my eye to see everyone coming together as one, and it reassured me that everything was really going to be okay,” MacLellan said.