It took just over two hours for several area people to join Kevin Edwards in raising around $1,800 -- money he hopes will help save the life of Makanda Williams.
Edwards held "Holiday on the Square: Miracle for Makanda" last week, centered at his antique store on the Benton Public Square. The County Seat and The White Rabbit also joined the event, holding silent auctions through the weekend.
"Tonight was about a community coming together," said Sen. Dale Fowler (R-Harrisburg), who volunteered his time along with Franklin County Circuit Clerk Jim Muir to serve refreshments for the event.
Community members from around southern Illinois joined in the event Friday. Sheila Clendenin and her daughter, Lindsey Miner, brought their business, Shooting Star Photography, donating proceeds of photos with Mrs. Claus, played by Opal Avery of Johnston City.
Several members of the Benton High School Madrigals gave up their Friday evening activities to provide entertainment, caroling around the Square to promote the event.
Williams had her first treatment at Los Angeles Hospital in Monterrey, Mexico on Tuesday. "She did really well," said her mother, Sarah Carlton.
After watching her daughter undergo a series of 30 radiation treatments in St. Louis since her diagnosis in May, Carlton said doctors told her to "go home and make memories," since no other treatment was available to Williams.
The Mexican facility has just begun to treat the particular tumor, DIPG. Those treatments that offer the only chance at life come with a price tag that can reach as high as $250,000.
Not only does Williams' family have to bear the costs of the treatment, they must also pay for trips back and forth to Mexico and lodging while there. Carlton, who has tracked her daughter's illness on a Facebook page, makandastrong, put out a plea over the weekend for flight miles. "Makanda's next treatment is Jan. 8," she wrote. "We need to travel on Jan. 7 and return on Jan. 10."
Muir has also written on Facebook asking for help for the family. He has pledged a monthly donation and challenged others to step up and join him.