(WXYZ) — "God bless you,” said Julie, barely making out the words in a recorded Facetime call with Dave Portnoy from Barstool Sports.
Julie owns Salon Volume in Allen Park. During the Facetime call, she found out her business was selected to be part of the Bartsool Fund, a fund dedicated to helping small businesses during the pandemic.
In just 10 days, Portnoy and Barstool have raised nearly $17 million and helped more than 50 businesses.
"These people, they’re on their last legs," Portnoy said. "You see the wave of emotion just gone when we tell them 'Hey, we’ll be there for you.'”
Portnoy kickstarted the fund with a donation of $500,000, but the rest comes from the more than 130,000 donors. Each business selected will get help throughout the entire pandemic.
“If you get approved into our fund, you tell us how much you need whether it’s for rent, taxes, payroll, and we’ll be there until this thing is kinda over,” Portnoy said.
So far more than 50 businesses have been selected, including Champs Pub in Brighton. For roughly 40 years, the family business has served up the exact same burger with the same owner, and his same mustache.
“Haven’t seen my upper lip since 1970,” joked David "Champ" Beauchamp. The mustache has become part of the Pub's logo.
Despite spending even more money on igloos to keep in-person dining going, the neighborhood pub had been struggling. Then Portnoy gave Champ the call, adding his pub to the fund.
“It's nice to be recognized for being in business for so long,” Beauchamp said.
"It seems almost too good to be true,” said Walter Macneil during his call with Portnoy, which was recorded and posted online.
Macneil owns Mac's Acadian Seafood Shack in Saline, which has been in business for more than 20 years.
“If you saw my video, I didn't act very excited," Macneil told 7 Action News. "I was waiting for the other shoe to drop because I didn't believe it.”
Within days of the video call, a deposit was made into the restaurant's bank account from the Barstool Fund.
“What a blessing," Macneil said. "Incredible thing they’re doing. Incredible”
With more money being donated, the Barstool fund is still growing, with plans to keep adding more businesses and heartfelt videos.
“It's moving," Portnoy said of the business owners' reactions. "That's why I think we’re getting all the donations. You cant watch those and not have some empathy and compassion.”
Premier Sports Center in Shelby Township is also receiving support from the fund.
To donate or apply to the fund, visit Barstool Fund.