Area Make-A-Wish Effort a Huge Success

Thursday, February 25, 2016
Although dozens contributed their time to the Piggott Make-A-Wish roadblock on Friday, this was the group on hand at the end of the day when the goal was met. They're pictured celebrating the achievement as the $10,000 mark was eclipsed.(courtesy photo)

The 18th annual Northeast Arkansas Have-A-Heart Wish-A-Thon was a great success, raising more than $403,000, a phenomenal increase over last year's total of 193,702.

Volunteers from all over Northeast Arkansas worked tirelessly Friday gathering money for Make-A-Wish at 16 roadblocks throughout the region with the hope of granting as many wishes as possible for children with life-threatening illnesses.

This was Piggott's second year of participating in the Make-A-Wish effort and the committee looked to make a big jump from the $4,118 raised last year setting a goal of $10,000. The effort got a huge shot in the arm with the first ever Daddy-Daughter dance in January, raising over half of their goal.

Evan Dooley, Parker Bucy and Conley Lockhart are pictured manning the roadblock for the Make-A-Wish Foundation Wish-A-Thon on Friday in Rector.

"We were in awe, we never dreamed we would have such a turnout," noted local organizer Geraldine Crawford. "And, the roadblock turned out just great, with help from a lot of volunteers, including ALE students from PHS and Mohawk football players. They not only helped hold buckets or signs, they also emptied out their pockets, or got coins out of their cars. They really made a difference."

With the 4:30 p.m. deadline looming, and the effort still several hundred dollars short of goal, the volunteers took action.

"We sent out texts, dug a little deeper and were just about to give up and shut down when I heard them shout -- we made it!"

Rector raised $8,233.44, just $400 shy of their goal. Make-A-Wish organizer Letecia Dooley said in the future "we will be looking to do more activities in the school district and more fundraising throughout the year to allow us to help such a wonderful cause."

Marmaduke High School's volunteers of four student council members and sponsor Marty Vallance, along with other Marmaduke locals, joined Paragould's roadblock, raising more than $32,066.30. Paragould's block had special guests Raphael the Ninja Turtle, Mickey Mouse and Disney's Elsa taking up money for the effort and visiting with those who stopped to donate. Also, several wish kids joined in the effort.

The Power of A Wish

Dooley knows first-hand the power of a wish as her daughter Ariel, who suffers from spina bifida, was granted her wish of visiting Disney World in 2009. That encouraged the Dooleys to decide to become involved with the Make-A-Wish effort.

"We wanted our children to see how these wishes are granted, where the money comes from and how important this is to so many people," Dooley said.

The effort of those in Northeast Arkansas will also be felt locally, as PES student Dayton Gilkison is now expected to get his wish granted, and visit Disney World thanks to the Make-A-Wish Foundation.

"This young man has been through more than we could ever imagine," Crawford added. "I am so happy that he and his family have this opportunity because of people like you."

Crawford also offered her thanks to her husband, Dale, for his help and encouragement along with the other committee members, Kim Donner, Debbie Dunlap and Mistie Gossett. "And, of course I want to thank all the volunteers who worked at the dance or roadblock, and those who donated," she added. "I can't wait to see what we will do in 2017."

Dooley also wanted to thank all of the volunteers involved, Steve Champ for providing drinks and Flash Market for providing food to the volunteers. "These remarkable feats would not be possible without each and every volunteer and donator...thanks to everyone," Dooley said.

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