Bikers Bringing Joy To Keiki

Toys for Keiki Run partners with King’s Kona and the Waimea Christmas Parade

Yes, you can hear them coming again this year! More than 300 bikers are expected to participate in this year’s ride that caps the Hau’oli Hoaloha (happy friends of aloha) Motorcycle Club’s toy-raising efforts that benefit hundreds of Hawai’i Island keiki.

With about 15 different clubs based here, Hau’oli Hoaloha is comprised of 20 members who are committed to putting family first, and honoring and respecting all riders on the road, according to the 2023 toy run organizer, Jonathan Neru. They are the values originally put forward by the club’s founder Maitland Akau, Sr. in 1983, Jonathan says. 

“That first ‘Toys for Keiki’ run in 1983 also took place in Waimea and this year we celebrate the 40th year of our club’s founding with the run happening up in Waimea again, the location of the Akau’s family home,” Jonathan says.

The 63rd annual Waimea Twilight Christmas Parade, the second oldest in Hawai’i, takes place on the first Saturday of December each year. Beginning at 5:30 p.m. in Waimea Park, the parade concludes at Kalani Shuttle District Park. This year’s theme is “Everyone Paddle the Canoe Together,” something that resonates strongly with the club, according to Jonathan.  

All “free-spirited” riders, club members or not, with an interest in giving back to the community, are invited to ride in the parade with a toy strapped to the front of their bikes, he says. “If you have it in your heart to give to our keiki, come,” he says. “Together we can make a difference in young lives, just as paddling together we can keep moving forward.”  

The annual ride took place for several years after the inaugural run, however, it took a hiatus following Maitland, Sr.’s death and his sons, Maitland, Jr. and Mikey Akau, becoming busy with all things adult – marriage, children and work. Up until then, they were active with the club and had organized runs with their father.

December 2022 marked the return of the club’s “Toys for Keiki” motorcycle run, with the intent of continuing the legacy of gifting left by their father. All toys collected during this year’s campaign will be delivered to King’s Kona members who will distribute them to families, according to Mikey. 

“Our dad’s first love was actually playing baseball, not riding,” Mikey says. “His doctor put an end to that hobby, however, after Dad suffered a heart attack in 1982.” 

As destiny would have it, a month or two following his recovery, Maitland, Sr. was out picking up a newspaper at the Kamuela Inn, according to Mikey.

“He began chatting with two strangers there, Frank Aloiau and Arthur Oda, who were on island from Oahu doing what they love to do – riding their motorcycles,” he says. 

“They became quick friends, and my dad ended up inviting them to come home with him rather than stay at the inn. By the end of their visit, Dad had found his new hobby – biking,” Mikey says. The hobby soon grew to include not only the formation of the club, but a commitment for members to give whatever they can, whenever they can.  

Today, the club’s philanthropy includes additional causes. In August, the group spearheaded a motorcycle run to raise funds for the victims of the Maui fires, starting at the Old Airport in Kailua-Kona, riding through town along Ali’i Drive and continuing south to Hōnaunau.

“I jumped at the opportunity to organize this fundraising run that attracted 150 riders with very short notice; all of their monetary donations were sent to King’s Chapel on Maui for distribution,” Jonathan says. 

This October, Mikey, Maitland, Jr., and Jonathan also donated their time to the 2023 Ironman World Championship here in the Big Island, providing race day transportation – on the back of their bikes – for media cameramen and women covering the event. 

“Ironman is an amazing event, and our participation in driving photographers and reporters around the racecourse actually began in the late 1980s,” Mikey says.

Club members really want to do their part in caring for all Hawaiian Island communities. “Our hearts are with those in need,” Jonathan says.

For those who are interested in joining the Hau’oli Hoaloha Club, contact Mikey Akau at (808) 210-9280. For those individuals interested in donating toys for the December 2nd event, a tent will be set up along the parade route where toys may be dropped off. Toys, unwrapped and in original packaging, will be accepted for keiki between the ages of newborn to young teens. Don't miss the opportunity to give aloha!

“All Free-spirited riders are invited to join us for the 2023 'Toys for Keiki' motorcycle run in Waimea. If you have a heart for giving to our keiki, come!" – Jonathan Neru, event organizer

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