More than $1 million had been raised as of 4 p.m. Friday at Dick Purtan's annual radiothon benefiting the Salvation Army.
The scene at Oakland Mall was emotional, as fans, longtime friends and prominent metro Detroiters rallied around Purtan, who announced two weeks ago that he would retire his "Purtan's People" morning radio show March 26 and end a nearly 45-year Motor City broadcasting career.
The 16-hour fund-raising event, which began at 6 a.m. and was scheduled to end at 10 p.m., puts all of its proceeds into the pockets of the Salvation Army's Bed & Bread program, which feeds and shelters needy people in the metro area.
Purtan, hoping to exceed last year's radiothon total of $2.3 million, got support from celebrities like rocker Bob Seger, who called in early and donated a signed Fender guitar, and actor Tim Allen, who pledged $15,000.
Miss Michigan 2009 Nicole Blaszczyk rocked her tiara in front of the audience and talked to Purtan about her support for various charitable organizations before heading behind the scenes to answer phones.
"Today is really special because it's just a normal winter day in Michigan, where thousands of people are not only thinking about people that are in need, but they are doing what they can to help," said Blaszczyk, who plans to complete her marketing degree at Wayne State when her reign ends in June.
Debra Marshick, 52, of Troy held a special handmade thank-you sign for Purtan and his morning team at WOMC-FM (104.3).
"It's my first time seeing it live, but I have been listening since his days back at CKLW," said Marshick, who signed up for a $240-a-year pledge.
Since its launch in 1988, Purtan's radiothon has raised more than $22 million.
To donate to the cause, call 248-307-1043, go to womc.com or send a check to the Salvation Army Bed & Bread Club, 16130 Northland Drive, Southfield 48075.