While filming their nationally broadcast TV show “Small Town Big Deal,” co-hosts Rodney Miller and Jann Carl decided they wanted to do more to help some of the people they meet who are facing difficult circumstances.

One of those special people is Makanda Williams, a young girl in Macedonia, Ill., who has a very aggressive and rare childhood brain cancer. Her heartbreaking story and others like hers are the inspiration behind Small Town Big Heart, a new commercial segment of the show. Makanda passed away on April 28 at her home.

“By featuring stories of special people with extra-special needs on our show and website, we hope to pay it forward by drawing on the support of our loyal and caring fans across America,” said Miller, who like Makanda is a Southern Illinois native who grew up in nearby Benton. “Our primary focus with Small Town Big Heart is to inspire viewers through the special commercial and give them a way to help through our website.”

Co-host Jann Carl, formerly with Entertainment Tonight, adds she believes ‘Small Town Big Heart’ is something that’s never been done before, “I am not aware of another television show giving up commercial time to highlight a need in this way. We are hoping our viewers can help make a powerful difference. We believe that together we do more.”

Makanda’s story is the first step for Small Town Big Heart. Her brave fight already has touched the hearts of everyone involved with the show.

“Makanda’s community, family, and friends are cheering her on, praying for a miracle and working to raise money for experimental treatments in Mexico,” Miller says. “With whatever influence our show has, we hope to boost their mission and see Makanda get the help she needs.”

To learn how to help Makanda, visit the Small Town Big Deal website at www.SmallTownBigDeal.com.

“She needs an army behind her right now and will need financial support for some time,” Makanda’s mother Sarah Carlton said. “Small Town Big Heart will be instrumental in providing that support and we are so grateful. Makanda has so much fight in her and I know the treatment in Monterrey, Mexico will continue to keep her able to fight. The goal is to keep her well; we are praying for a miracle.”

The effort has the strong community support throughout southern Illinois.

“As a local business owner, it is an honor to participate in the support of Makanda through this fundraising endeavor,” Dave Severin said.

Small Town Big Deal is a nationally syndicated broadcast and cable television show with one million viewers each week. Co-hosts Miller and Carl travel the country filming inspirational stories about American communities, people, events and happenings. Originally aired on cable TV in 2012, the show has since expanded into a nationally syndicated program appearing weekly more than 170 local stations in over 87 percent of American television markets, including such great TV stations as ABC in New York City, Philadelphia, Chicago and Atlanta and CBS in Los Angeles. It is also broadcast on the Armed Forces Network for viewing at U.S. military bases across the world. Small Town Big Deal also may be seen on cable television at 9:30 p.m. EST/8:30 p.m. CST Thursday on RFD-TV.

For more information about Small Town Big Deal, visit the show’s website or personally follow co-hosts Rodney Miller and Jann Carl on their Facebook page (Facebook.com/smalltownbigdeal), Twitter (twitter.com/SmallTwnBigDeal) and YouTube (youtube.com/smalltownbigdeal).