Ozarks Life: The time a Springfield woman met Dolly Parton

Jackie Carroll and her caregivers went to Dollywood for a VIP meet & greet.
Published: May. 26, 2023 at 6:46 AM CDT
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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) - At first glance of her bedroom, it’s hard to imagine anyone in Springfield loving Dolly Parton more than Jackie Carroll.

Jackie has loved Dolly for a long time, maybe longer than The Arc of the Ozarks has been there supporting the 54-year-old.

“About a year ago,” The Arc of the Ozarks’ residential director, Tena Morrow said, “Jackie started with Cox Hospice program, and she had a music therapist named Emily. She would walk in the door for her weekly music therapy. It never failed. We always sang Dolly songs.”

Jackie would sing every word of every Dolly song Emily played. Her favorite is “9 to 5.”

But recently, all of those memories have been getting a little cloudy.

“Over the last year, our dementia has gotten a lot worse,” Morrow said about Jackie.

So The Arc of the Ozarks, the CoxHealth Foundation, and with many others got an idea.

“Between Emily and Jill, her program supervisor, they’re like, ‘why don’t we make a wish come true,’” Morrow said.

They reached out to Dolly Parton’s people through social media, hoping for a video call with the music superstar. But they got a whole lot more. A VIP meet and greet with Dolly Parton at Dollywood.

Dolly signed autograph after autograph for Jackie, sat with her for a bit, and took a lot of pictures.

“Just to be able to see something that we never imagined would happen for Jackie was pretty phenomenal,” Morrow said.

Dolly’s music brings Jackie joy. But Dolly’s time and generosity gave Jackie more.

“Jackie’s dementia has progressed recently,” Morrow said, “so this visit to see Dolly was perfect timing. Yeah. Perfect timing.”

The amazing thing is Jackie’s team heard back from Dolly Parton’s people on Wednesday night, and the meet and greet was Saturday morning. So they had to book plane tickets, hotel, and everything for Jackie’s care team in less than two days.

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