A Clinton resident has raised the most funds for a local nonprofit organization and claimed the title of Mr. South Whidbey 2022.
Since 2006, the friendly competition among South End men has been an important fundraiser for Friends of Friends Medical Support Fund, which helps cover medical bills for those in need.
In an unusual turn of events, this year’s winner, John LaVassar, was not present at Saturday’s pageant in Freeland Hall, where the community gathered to watch the five contestants perform on the catwalk.
Since LaVassar tested positive for COVID-19, he decided to send his coworker Erik Stine, a sixth grade science teacher, in his place.
Stine, performing as the “substitute teacher,” wore LaVassar’s clothing and took on his role in a comedic skit. At the end of the night, he received the crown in LaVassar’s honor from Jasper Hein, who won the virtual Mr. South Whidbey pageant in 2021. Gail, LaVassar’s wife, was also on stage for the coronation.
Even though LaVassar opted not to campaign via social media like some of the other contestants did, he worked hard to promote himself when speaking directly to others in the community.
“All my early fundraising, talking to people, getting my flier out there. I went for donations near and far,” he said.
Kristi Price, the president of the organization’s board of directors, said the contestants raised a combined total of nearly $26,000 this year.
Ansel Santosa, Steve Strehlau, Tony Wright and Erick Westphal also participated in the 2022 competition.