Come Along For The Ride
Kaua‘i Motocross Association seeks to elevate the exhilarating off-road sport in the hearts and minds of Garden Isle residents.
A dirt bike is suspended in the air, and time stands still as its rider’s body momentarily lifts from the seat. Arms, legs and wheels are akimbo. Landing seems impossible, but the rider, garnering mental and physical strength, completes the feat.
“I tried all the sports, but there’s nothing like motocross or dirt bike riding,” says Devin Parado, operations president for Kaua‘i Motocross Association (KMXA). Parado, originally from O‘ahu, played nearly every sport growing up and started dabbling in moto-cross at age 11. Needless to say, he was hooked, though he didn’t race competitively until age 16.
By the time he was an adult, Parado had worked his way from novice to expert, even winning a championship season for the amateur class.
“You can’t take the sport out of the rider; you’re always going to love it,” says Parado. “And if you try to get away, you’re going to get sucked back in.”
That’s why he chose to volunteer his time with KMXA — to share that enthusiasm with other riders, especially keiki.
And he has the perfect team-mate in Kiana Fontanilla, his girlfriend of five years, who serves as KMXA’s secretary. The motocross power couple met at KMXA’s annual Labor Day race in 2012. When they moved to Kaua‘i about a year ago, it was a no-brainer for them to donate their time and energy to the nonprofit.
Fontanilla, who originally is from the Garden Isle, has deep roots in the sport. Her family has always been a part of Kaua‘i’s motocross community, and her grandfather, Stanley Amorin Sr., was one of the forefathers responsible for providing trail races to the island.
“I’m sure her grandpa would still ride if he could,” says Parado.
But Amorin Sr., who now is in his 80s, still likes to watch the KMXA races, which take place about once a month between January and October at the Wailuā Motocross Track — the Labor Day weekend race being the largest of the group’s events. Riders of all ages, ranging from 4 to 65, race in different classes determined by factors like bike size.
The eastside facility where the races occur is located on about 18 acres of Kaua‘i County land, which the club is responsible for maintaining. The group, therefore, relies heavily on donations and volunteers — a fact that can get frustrating for Parado and Fontanilla. But their love for the sport and desire to give back continues to drive them.
“And being a good role model for the kids,” adds Parado.
They also hold charity races for local food banks, collecting more than 400 pounds of food in 2017.
“It shows people a different side to the sport,” says Parado.
The sport attracts a supportive community and isn’t just a dangerous activity to partake in.
“It is dangerous, but life is dangerous,” says Parado. “You can get hurt crossing the street.”
The sport teaches hand-eye coordination and the ability to remain balanced using physical and mental power, which is how riders can launch their bikes off hills, twist in the air and land back on the ground in one piece.
“You can get hurt easily if you don’t know what you’re doing or aren’t quick-thinking,” explains Parado. “And you are going to crash. It’s not if, it’s when. And it’s always on the back of every rider’s mind. But it’s the risk we take because there’s a greater reward. There’s nothing like it.”
Placing attention on improving a skill like moto-cross essentially helps keep keiki away from negative activities like drug use and builds their stamina to become more well-rounded individuals.
“If you stay focused on the sport, you can do good, not just in the sport but in life,” says Parado.
He and Fontanilla hope to encourage more kids to participate. Right now, the club has almost 60 members who receive discounted race and practice fees (the track is open on the weekends and some holidays), but they’d like to grow that number.
“We want to get the sport back to the next level,” says Parado, who also encourages people to visit the facility as spectators.
Keeping everything running has been nothing short of a labor of love for the duo, but the work has been well worth it.
“All of the preparation leading up to the races, and when everyone goes home not hurt and the kids are on top of the world because they got to ride and race against their buddies — that, I feel, is the most rewarding,” adds Fontanilla.
Visit facebook.com/kmxa808 or find KMXA on Instagram (@kmxa808).