OWOSSO — Justin Horvath, president and CEO of the Shiawassee Economic Development Partnership, was crowned Mr. Owosso Saturday night following three weeks of intense fundraising that raised $44,497 for Habitat for Humanity.

“I am overwhelmed with gratitude and some exhaustion at what was just accomplished,” Horvath said. “It was an absolute team effort, with so many people to thank for volunteering, donating and supporting our efforts. I want to say congratulations to my fellow candidates for doing a great job raising money for their organizations, and also thanks to the Mr. Owosso committee for creating an awesome event that allowed us to do some great charitable work, build camaraderie between the campaigns and have fun. Lastly, a special shout out to my campaign manager Sue Osika, who truly stepped up and did an amazing job. It was an experience I’ll remember for the rest of my life.”

The Mr. Owosso campaign was limited to three weeks this year. In addition, candidates received points for money raised, as well as for participation in festival events during the weekend.

The crowning took place during the Curwood Festival in the Outpost entertainment tent. Candidates took part in a talent show leading up to the announcement.

Mr. Owosso candidates included Horvath; Hartmann Aue, a former Shiawassee County commissioner who chose The Arc as his charity to support; Charles Dahl, a loan officer at Metro Mortgage collecting money for the Shiawassee Family YMCA; and Owosso firefighter Lt. Patrick Bradley, who raised money for a firefighters memorial.

Dahl raised about $22,000; Aue raised about $20,000; and Bradley brought in $3,800. Together the candidates raise a little more than $90,000 for charity.

On June 3, Horvath conducted a roof-sit fundraiser on the roof of The Armory.

He said the organization he chose, Habitat for Humanity has a lot of the same goals the Shiawassee Economic Development Partnership does — such as expanding the housing stock in the county in order to boost business development.

The candidates and their campaign managers all agreed that the most challenging aspect of running for Mr. Owosso is the amount of time a strong campaign requires.

“Probably the best way to put what it’s been like is riding a wave,” candidate Justin Horvath said previously. “Once you start riding, there’s no stopping it. We’ve seen great interest and support, and I’m very happy about that. It’s been a great experience, and I’m looking forward to finishing strong.”

“This has been the best experience I’ve ever had in my whole life and it’s been so much fun. I have met so many people. Thank you from the bottom of my heart. Justin and I have been working on this since January. I don’t know how it’s going to be when we aren’t together every day. It’s been a wonderful experience everyone should do it once,” Sue Osika, Horvath’s campaign manager, said Saturday.

Although Dahl did not win the Mr. Owosso contest, he was the judges’ and audience’s favorite in the swimsuit contest Saturday, sporting an Austin Powers-themed speedo.

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