BY JENNIFFER WARDELL
Clipper Staff Writer
OGDEN — After years of support from “Biggest Loser” contestant Jackson Carter, a group of local teens is ready to return the favor.
Carter, a Layton resident who is one of two contestants vying to become the show’s “America’s Choice” finalist, is the volunteer coordinator for the OUTreach Resource Center in Ogden. America’s votes will determine whether he remains on the show, so OUTreach is holding a “Get OUT the Vote!” event for Carter today, March 14, from 5-7:30 p.m. at the Ben Lomond Hotel.
“We love Jackson,” said Marian Edmonds, executive director of the OUTreach Resource Center. “He’s been a part of our family for five years, and we kind of watched him grow up. We wanted to do everything we could to get the vote out for him.”
Carter, the show’s first openly gay contestant, first started coming to the center when he was 16. Now 21, he serves as a trustee on the board of directors and regularly speaks to the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered youths who come to the center.
“When kids are bullied, they’ll sometimes respond by doing things that aren’t healthy,” said Edmonds. “For Jackson, it was overeating, and he’s very open about it.”
She added that Carter’s willingness to share can even reach teens who respond differently than he did.
“We have a high suicide rate in the area,” Edmond said. “What Jackson does gives them hope.”
Carter was one of the final four contestants on the show, though in the March 11 episode he fell below the official cutoff line. Another contestant, Joe Ostaszewski, was in the same situation, and both are now candidates in the show’s wild card vote. Voting, which can be done online at nbc.com/live-vote/the-biggest-loser/rules.shtml, will determine which contestant participates in the live season finale on March 18.
At the OUTreach event, there will be voting centers set up for people to vote and to encourage their friends to vote as well. Prizes will be given for those who can gather the most votes.
In addition to voting, there will be photos and videos of Carter, a trivia contest, light refreshments and stories from family and friends. Some of those stories will be about his road to television.
“He really just tried out for the show on a lark,” said Edmonds. “He was so great with the camera and people that they just kept calling him back.”
Though they’ve only had since last Monday to pull the event together, a lot of the planning had been done in advance.
“His family and I will be at the finale, and we’d already decided to throw a party before we went,” Edmonds said. “When we heard he would be up for vote, we decided to switch it. Everything came together quickly, but with a little bit of preparation.”
Ben Lomond Hotel is located at 2510 Washington Blvd. in Ogden. Voting closes at 7 a.m. on Friday, March 15. The season finale of “Biggest Loser” will air Monday, March 18 at 7 p.m. on NBC.