Alex Bonesteel decided a long time ago that there’s no sense in being afraid of embarrassing himself. It’s an inevitable part of life.
What he can control, however, is when and how he’ll embarrass himself. That time is 7 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 1 during the 2016 Mr. South Whidbey Pageant at Freeland Hall.
Bonesteel, owner of Island Fitness Nutrition in Freeland, is among six contestants competing for the title of Mr. South Whidbey, a decade-old fundraiser that helps offer financial help to South Whidbey residents with uncovered health-related expenses, according to a press release. The winner is decided by who can raise the most money for the Friends of Friends Medical Support Fund. Proceeds from the event are also donated to the fund. One vote for a contestant equals $1 donated to the cause.
The other contestants are Trevor Fleming, Damian Greene, Kevin Lungren, David Mayer and Michael Morgen. All six have been making efforts in the community and on social media to raise money for the cause.
Playful banter, wacky costumes and laughter are common at the event. Bonesteel watched the event from the crowd eight years ago and saw it in a different light.
“When I saw the guys doing it before, it was really intimidating to me,” Bonesteel said. “I’ve only suffered from a little bit of stage fright.”
He’s transformed his thinking in the years since, and is now amused by the fact that he was once unnerved about going on stage. Like the other contestants, Bonesteel is well aware that contestants embarrassing themselves has historically been a major part of Mr. South Whidbey. While it’s customary for the contestants to keep their plans for the evening under wraps, Bonesteel said he plans to do something that will poke fun at himself and engage the audience while also highlighting his own talents.
“I think I’m just going to have fun with it,” Bonesteel said. “You can’t be afraid of being embarrassed in life because it’s going to happen.”
Bonesteel is a bit of a jack of all trades when it comes to his attributes. Not only is he a physically fit gym enthusiast, he also plays the fiddle and is an oil painter.
“That’s kind of part of the reason why they wanted me to do it,” Bonesteel said.
Lungren, a financial advisor at Edward Jones Investments in Clinton and president of The Fishin’ Club, is not keen for the spotlight but is embracing the challenge nonetheless.
“I can’t begin to tell you how far outside my comfort zone this it,” Lungren said. “Those things that don’t kill us make us stronger.”
He also commended those who work behind the scenes, such as the Friends of Friends board as well as others in the community, to make the event a success.
Morgen and Mayer are less afraid of being in the spotlight. Both are seasoned performers.
Morgen is a finance manager at the Whidbey Island Waldorf School and also directs theater shows and other projects with Whidbey Island Center for the Arts and South Whidbey High School. He too will enter the night with a thick skin.
“My years of showmanship and inability to become embarrassed are my secret weapons,” Morgen said.
Mayer, a 44-year-old Freeland resident, said that acting in general involves a little bit of embarrassment here and there. He also said that a willing crowd that wants to root for contestants will help.
“It’s all in fun,” Mayer said. “No matter how much we pretend that we’re rivals, we’re all going for the same great cause.”
Greene, a South Whidbey School Board member and 1980 Langley High School graduate, will be the event’s first ever virtual candidate. Work obligations will prevent him from attending Saturday night, but he is still making diligent efforts to garner votes and money from the community.
“The reason I accepted is because I think they do good things and it’s always a good thing to help others,” Greene said. “I live to help others and not hurt them.”
Fleming, who works at Nichols Brothers, was born and raised on South Whidbey and graduated from South Whidbey High School in 2000. His efforts in fundraising have included walking in parades and a recent car and dog wash in Clinton. He said he’s happy to give back to the community and is eager to do what he can for the cause.
“What’s better than being able to help out your neighbor?” Fleming said. “This is big.”
Tickets are now on sale for $30 at Moonraker Books in Langley, Whidbey Art Escape in Freeland or online at brownpapertickets.com/event/2581685.