Dozens of volunteers will gather at Kohl's in Conway on Friday for the annual Make-A-Wish Heart-Filled Wish-A-Thon from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m.

The group of more than 40 will be raising money for the organization, which grants wishes to children with life-threatening illnesses.

Kelli Collins, the captain of the local site, said the event came to Conway three years ago after she joined forces with the state board and others to bring the fundraising event, which was prominent and successful in Little Rock, to the area.

She said last year they raised $8,000 but collectively — which includes Little Rock, Bryant, North Little Rock, Cabot, Benton and Conway — pulled in $400,000. With that, Collins said the organization was able to grant 50 wishes, one of those being here in Faulkner County.

"It's still new," she said. "With our sponsorships this year, we're expecting that [number] to grow by a large amount."

Collins said as far as goals for the day, they always want to exceed what they made the year before. Ultimately, she said the more money they raise, the more kids they will be able to help.

"That's the most important thing," Collins said.

Collins is a wish granter — one who helps grant the wishes for the children — for the nonprofit and said she specifically remembers a situation in Russellville that stood out to her.

She said the child has Multiple Sclerosis and wished to go to Disneyland in California but also wanted to see where his dad, who is from the golden state, grew up.

Collins said Make-A-Wish uses 80 cents of every dollar they receive to focus on these kids, who don't always get to be normal; after facing prick after prick and test after test, she said, these kids need that sense of normalcy and the trips give them that and often helps in the healing process by refreshing everyone.

"It's something that's really special," she said.

In her opinion, giving to the organization is worthy for that reason.

Her favorite part, she said, is when the kids return home to tell their stories, and how Make-A-Wish helped them.

Collins said parents also tend to come back and volunteer.

"[I] Just think that's a testament to the organization," she said.

Speaking of volunteers, Collins said they have around 40 to 50 for Friday, but are always looking for more people to sign up and help out. To do that, she said, they can go to the website or email her directly at

"I'm just excited for this day to come and find out exactly how much we can raise to grant wishes for kids in central Arkansas," she said.