Mr. South Whidbey 2017, Daniel Goldsmith, takes a ceremonial ride with some of this year’s contestants during the Whidbey Island Fair parade. He’s surrounded by Tim Leonard, far left, Keegan Harshman, left, Ray Green, center, and Trace Prael, right. (Photo provided)

Mr. South Whidbey 2017, Daniel Goldsmith, takes a ceremonial ride with some of this year’s contestants during the Whidbey Island Fair parade. He’s surrounded by Tim Leonard, far left, Keegan Harshman, left, Ray Green, center, and Trace Prael, right. (Photo provided)

‘Mr. South Whidbey’ preview set for Sept. 6

It’s that catwalk time of year again when six daring — and soon-to-be darling — men vie for the coveted title of Mr. South Whidbey.

The main showdown is Oct. 6 at Freeland Hall. But a preview peek at the six contestants is scheduled for 6:30 p.m., Thursday, Sept. 6 at the Taproom, Bayview Corner.

Ray Green, Keegan Harshman, Mike Johnson, Larry Johnson, Tim Leonard and Trace Prael have thrown their hats in the ring this year in an attempt to pluck the pageant crown off the head of 2017 winner, Daniel Goldsmith.

They’ll put their talents and personalities on display to gain the admiration and votes — and most importantly, big bucks — to raise money for the Friends of Friends Medical Support Fund.

The medical safety net fund helps South Whidbey residents pay medical-related expenses.

One vote is equal to $1. The contestant who raises the most money wins.

It’s the biggest fun — and fundraiser — of the year for the nonprofit charity, according to Kristi Price, chairwoman of fundraising on the Friends of Friends 13-member board.

At the Sept. 6 preview, contestants will talk about why they’re in the running for Mr. South Whidbey and the audience can ask questions, Price said.

“These are brave guys,” she said of the contestants selected by the organization’s board based on community recommendations. “We have men who turn us down. They say, ‘Oh, no, I’m not doing that.’”

Friends of Friends was started in 1997 with a personal letter from grassroots organizing extraordinaire Lynn Willeford. She wrote to 75 friends asking each for a $100 donation toward medical debt of others.

The request resulted in $7,500, 11 grateful recipients and the beginning of Friends of Friends.

Since then, the organization has distributed more than $1 million in donations to help more than 2,000 neighbors with medical bills. Assistance is limited to those who live in Clinton, Freeland, Langley and Greenbank.

The fund assists with medical expenses, such as hospital bills, prescription or over-the-counter medications, visits to health professionals, laboratory bills, medical supplies and equipment, ferry tickets and gas vouchers for treatment on the mainland.

“We want to help people,” said past president Barb Schlutz, who explained the application process is fairly simple. “If they call us, we assume they need help.”

Friends of Friends is guided by an all-volunteer board and one part-time paid coordinator who performs intake evaluations and authorizes payment for services.

The board sets dollar limits on how much it helps any one individual over the course of a year in order to help as many as possible.

Friends of Friends doesn’t reimburse bills already paid. It directly pays providers of medical services or pharmacies and distributes gas and ferry vouchers.

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