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Making wishes come true 

Say what you will about John Daly - and certainly much has been said good and bad by many sports fans and journalists for the past 13 years - but the man has a huge heart. He's been at the forefront among sports celebrities for the Make-a-Wish Foundation during his amazing career as a professional golfer, and this year Daly's game has been on an upswing on the PGA Tour. When he won the Buick Invitational in February, one of the prizes besides a huge check was a Buick Rainier SUV, which Daly donated to the local Make-a-Wish office to raise money for the organization. After holding his annual celebrity golf tournament and auction/dinner in Memphis and Tunica, Miss., the past few years, he moved the early June event to Maumelle Country Club. Thirty celebrities, most of them in the music industry, helped entertain on the course and at a dinner party and concert jam in Little Rock. He's personally seen to it that 10 wishes were granted this year to children with life-threatening medical conditions. The average wish usually runs the foundation $5,000, and locally Make-a-Wish granted 253 wishes last year - the number of wishes being granted in this area grew so much in recent years that the regional office in Memphis opened a five-person office here. Obviously, raising money for those wishes is the challenge. The Arkansas Twisters stepped up to help Make-a-Wish in raising money through the Rainier giveaway. Daly was on hand in May to literally kickoff the program, attempting a 43-yard field goal for charity. Let's just say his golf driving beats his placement talent, but attention again was drawn to Make-a-Wish with his efforts. Make-a-Wish could have sold the car at auction, but chose this route with the Twisters to get the foundation's name out. Two Twisters fans were selected for the final drawing for the SUV on July 31, and another two will be chosen at the game this Friday, July 16, at Alltel Arena. Then, at the July 31 Twisters' season-ending game, those four people will select keys, one of which starts the Rainier, guaranteeing that someone is going to drive off with a $40,000 SUV. Fans can register Friday at the game. There is no purchase necessary, the fans who are selected are comped their tickets to the July 31st game, and all the Twisters hope is that fans will make a donation to Make-a-Wish. Already through the team's efforts, more than $13,000 has been raised, Langford said. Daly's schedule will keep him being on hand for the final drawing. However, one Make-a-Wish child will have his wish granted that night - the organization is keeping it a secret for now - and many more will have a chance to have wishes granted thanks to Daly's and many others' help. The local Make-a-Wish office is at 2228 Cottondale Lane, Suite 300. Call 376-9474 to learn more about the organization or e-mail arkansas@wish.org. Besides donations, the foundation is looking for volunteers. Though the Twisters have struggled all season, they lead the Arena Football 2 League in attendance with two games remaining. Friday's game with Memphis kicks off at 7:35 p.m. (doors open at 6:30 p.m.). The Twisters salute stock car racing fans with NASCAR Night. Fans can complete in the "Twisters 200" at halftime by making a cardboard replica car of their favorite driver and bringing it to the main gate. Two tickets to the Busch Series Samstown 250 at the Memphis Motor Speedway will be given away to the winner of the race and what is voted the best looking cardboard replica car. For this night only, Pabst Blue Ribbon drafts will be available for $1. Mark Martin's No. 6 Viagra blue car and his old Valvoline car driven will be on display, and crews and cars from the I-30 Speedway will be on hand. The first 1,000 fans receive a limited-edition Coca-Cola matchbox car, and fans wearing NASCA memorabilia get a $2 discount on the ticket price. For tickets or more information, call 975-5425.
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