Kiamo Motooka has a message he wants the world to hear.
Thanks to dedication and belief in himself, he’ll be delivering it this weekend.
“It’s uncomfortable for sure, but it’s something that needs to be addressed,” he said. “It can’t be ignored.”
Motooka will be giving a presentation on teen suicide, as well being interviewed and posing in Speedos, when he travels to Las Vegas with other men from Hawaii to compete in the Mr. All American Man title, under the direction of Jenna Yap.
The 27-year-old recently won the titles of Mr. Kauai and Mr. West Coast in the Mr. Hawaii Competition, which was created to help elevate men to further their educational goals and give them a platform to encourage change. Next up is the Mr. All American Man competition on Sunday.
Motooka left Tuesday and is at once excited, anxious and motivated to do his best.
“I want to see our young people more focused on what they have in their future, not focused on how they can end it,” he said. “Be comfortable with who you are.”
Winners of the Aug. 13 Mr. Hawaii Competition are:
Mr. Kauai and Mr. West Coast — Motooka
Mr. North Shnore and Mr. Pacific Region — David Campos Linhares
Mr. Oahu and Mr. Aloha State — Royce Enos
Mr. Makena and Mr. Pacific Coast — Dominick Lagatutta
Mr. Maui and Mr. Hawaii — Juliano Lomeli
Motooka, who lives in Koloa and is a graduate of Baldwin High School on Maui, likes this competition because it based more on what you can bring to your community, what you can do for others.
“That kind of sold me on it,” he said.
Motooka doesn’t just talk. He went into the community and did community service, building awareness of who he is and what he stands for. He visited kupuna, spoke at Maui schools and participated in fundraisers like Relay For Life.
He has long been an advocate to create awareness of teen suicide and the mental struggles young people can face, often without telling anyone of their fears and worries.
Teen suicide is not just a problem on Kauai, he added, but worldwide. Yet, it is a topic not often discussed.
“It should be,” he said.
At the Mr. All American Man competition, participants will be interviewed by judges about their platform, and give a short presentation of about three minutes to the audience. It’s about your heart, your head and your appearance, inside and out.
“For everyone to believe in you, you have to believe it,” he said. “Talk about what you believe in.”
He also created a costume for the event that represents his home state, and hopes to surprise people with his imagination.
Part of the competition is testing how well each person can handle themselves in different situations, and can they teach others to do the same.
Motooka has enjoyed the journey so far and expects that to continue to Vegas this weekend. He expects it to be a bit of a chaotic, fun atmosphere, and camaraderie, too, as the contestants encourage and help each other along the way.
The Mr. Hawaii Competition might sound cheesy, Motooka said, but it’s not.
The other men in it, he said, “are honestly such cool dudes.”
When he won the title of Mr. West Coast in the Mr. Hawaii Competition, Motooka attributed that to old-fashioned hard work and a willingness to test himself.
“I honestly was so proud of myself,” he said. “I was completely out of my comfort zone.”
But it gave him the opportunity to speak on teen suicide awareness, and he delivered a strong performance.
He connected with the audience.
Later, people praised his efforts and his message.
“There were a lot of turning, nodding heads, and wiped eyes,” he said.
The physical aspect of the Mr. Hawaii Competition isn’t based strictly on body building, but on overall health.
They also pose, shirtless in surf shorts or Speedos (Motooka went with Speedos). It looks at how each person stays in shape, how they present themselves, are they comfortable with how they look while walking down a runway with hundreds of people watching.
Motooka, a trim 5 foot 8 inches and 135 pounds, runs, swims, surfs, hikes, and visits the gym a few times week.
“Cardio is my life,” he said.
While he’s good with himself and posing for this competition before crowds, for others there’s an adjustment period.
“The first time my dad (Bert) ever saw me in a Speedo, he did a double-take,” Motooka said, laughing.
He is looking forward to representing Kauai, and plans to give it his very best.
“You only live once,” he said. “Let’s do this, do it to the fullest.”
Bill Buley, editor-in-chief, can be reached at 245-0457 or firstname.lastname@example.org.