Gatlinburg SkyLift Park's "Lift Up Our Neighbors" Auction Raises $71,000 for Tornado Relief

“Our connection to these folks is strong, and we are grateful to have been able to help out in this way.”

Gatlinburg SkyLift Park's December auction to "lift up" victims of the devastating tornadoes that struck Kentucky and Tennessee raised more than $71,000 for relief efforts.

The fundraiser included the auction of 11 SkyLift chairs that survived the 2016 wildfires, as well as donations from ticket sales.

According to the Tennessee attraction, each of the iconic lift chairs sold within seven hours—and for the maximum amount of $3,000. In addition to the auction, $1 per ticket sold from December 16 - 22 went to tornado relief efforts. All funds were distributed to The Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee, Reelfoot Rural Ministries of West Tennessee, and Team Western Kentucky Tornado Relief Fund.

"The tornado disaster in Kentucky and Tennessee really resonated with us at the SkyLift Park, and in Gatlinburg in general," Marcus Watson, administrative director of SkyLift Park, said in a news release. "It reminded us of everything we went through in the aftermath of the wildfires, and how so many various areas helped us without question. That experience motivated us to help others who couldn't help themselves in such a dark time."

"It was especially meaningful to us knowing that SkyLift Park and the Gatlinburg area are a home away from home, a safe haven, for a lot of folks from these areas who come here year after year," Watson continued. "Because our attraction has been around for almost 70 years, we see many of the same visitors every year, introducing new generations to the natural wonders and the great community of Gatlinburg. Our connection to these folks is strong, and we are grateful to have been able to help out in this way."

Numerous communities are still recovering from a storm system that resulted in a rash of tornadoes across six states on December 10, cutting a path of destruction that spanned 227 miles—200 of which were in Kentucky—and claiming the lives of at least 90 people.

For those in need of assistance and for more information of recovery efforts, visit

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