KAILUA-KONA — David Wild is, well, wild. Living life full throttle — whether teaching, racing, or coaching — he’s a true force of nature.
After graduating from UC Berkeley in 2010, he celebrated his launch into the real world by biking solo across the country in just 28 days, from San Diego to Key West, Florida. In 2014, he came to the Big Island as part of the Teach for America program and landed at Konawaena High School where he has taught math for the last four years. Inspired by his students, Wild recently founded the Go Wild Scholarship, which celebrates a student’s indigenous roots, and supports greater access to higher education for young people in Hawaii.
“For your tree to grow, you have to water your roots,” Wild said.
Part of the Karuk Tribe on his mom’s side, Wild grew up with a strong connection to the Karuk culture in California. He was drawn to the Big Island by an admiration for and desire to learn from Hawaiian culture. As a teacher, Wild encourages students to have pride in their roots, and be true to themselves. If you don’t know where you come from, it’s never too late to reconnect with your history.
When he qualified for the Ironman World Championship in June, Wild saw an opportunity to leverage his position as an athlete and raise funds for students. He asked his class to draw designs for a “Go Wild” T-shirt that supporters can wear on race day, with 100 percent of the proceeds from the shirt donated to the scholarship. The scholarship will be awarded to three Konawaena seniors for use toward education at a 2-year or 4-year college, or a trade school.
Students applying for the scholarship must complete a short essay on how they are honoring their indigenous roots, and must show active involvement in at least one sport, either inside or outside of school. Bike Works, Hawaiian Ola, and Teach for America have signed on as sponsors, and additional sponsors are welcomed.
As a high school math teacher, Wild noticed a sharp economic divide between certain students when it came to accessing higher education.
“A great college education has the power to change your life,” Wild said. “We never want the question of expense to be the primary reason that our students don’t pursue their dreams.”
He sees the scholarship as a small way to create positive push back against historic cultural shaming and disenfranchisement of indigenous communities in Hawaii and beyond.
With a seemingly endless supply of change-the-world-sized energy, Wild is a pretty busy guy outside of teaching and training. While his students and clients insist that he is, in fact, human, some speculation still exists as to whether he may actually be a very well-made robot. But don’t tell the Ironman people that. This year he became head coach of Konawaena High School’s cross country team, and founded a triathlon coaching business, Live Wild Coaching — https://www.livewildcoaching.com — in 2017. Wild has coached as many as nine athletes on a weekly basis, from beginners to competitive age-groupers. His unique coaching style focuses on adaptability and taking a holistic approach to health — with consideration for uplifting the mental, emotional, and physical well-being of everyone he works with.
Follow David Wild on Instagram @wilddavidwild for Go Wild Scholarship updates, uncensored Ironman training, Wildcat cross country, and more.
If you are interested in donating or becoming a corporate sponsor for the scholarship, email Gowildfoundation@gmail.com, or visit the Go Fund Me page: https://www.gofundme.com/the-go-wild-scholarship. Donations are tax deductible. Go Wild T-shirts will be for sale coming soon at Bike Works in Kona.
Emily Gleason is a member of Business Network International (BNI) Alii Networkers Chapter in Kailua-Kona and helps business owners reach their dream clients at www.mthewriter.com. She contributes a monthly business feature, Imua in Business, to West Hawaii Today.