The Hot Wax Challenge

“When one takes action for others, one’s own suffering is transformed into the energy that can keep one moving forward; a light of hope illuminating a new tomorrow for oneself and others is kindled.” – Daisaku Ikeda

I was recently challenged to participate in The Hot Wax Challenge to bring awareness to ___________ (fill in the blank).  OK, there is no Hot Wax Challenge but there could be and it might be for a great cause.  Philanthropic events like these pop up all over both mainstream and social media and serve a purpose in raising awareness. There are also many other events that do the same thing. There are walks, runs, and bike rides. There are fundraising marathons and concerts. The platforms to raise public awareness for a particular medical condition or human suffering are endless.  The potential groups that need awareness are plentiful as well. We have a plethora of cancers, diseases, child abuse victims, rape victims, domestic abuse victims, violent crime survivors, natural disaster victims, and so on and so on.

There are critics for many of these type of events who will argue that the event itself is self-serving or fun for the participants with little or no thought given to the downstream beneficiaries of the action. There are also complaints that many of these fundraising activities rob other organizations of much needed money, assuming money is actually raised. There is some validity to this yet in my opinion, the greater good is still served.

So, after weeks of blogging about writing, why am I writing about this? I read a blog a few weeks ago by an author friend of mine who talked about the faces behind the challenges; the faces of those who are suffering from the very condition that these challenges, athletic events, and other fundraising venues are based upon. Those faces are everywhere and for her it was something extremely personal and her post that day brought me to tears, both for her and for her family. Often  many of us don’t think about that and I for one had been just as guilty of it for many years. For example, I rode my bike in a MS150 years ago.  I did slightly more than pay my entry and raised money for the event. Big deal. It only meant that instead of just getting the T-Shirt and medal, I would also get a racing jersey and shorts. What ended up being a big deal was the medal placed around my neck as I finished the 150 mile ride. A medal placed by someone suffering from MS.  A face.  Then my grandfather was diagnosed with Leukemia and I participated in Team in Training to raise money. A face very dear to me and one who didn’t survive.  I followed this up with the Tour de Cure, Tour de Tucson, ‘insert name’ 5K, concerts, and golf tournaments. More faces of people suffering; some who beat it, some who didn’t, and some who are just dealing with it yet making the most of an unfortunate situation. There is always a face and it might be a face you know. It could be someone within your circle of friends, a family member, a coworker, or maybe just a small face next to a tweet or Facebook status you are looking at.

Monday Blogs.  As a newbie to having a blog, I assumed most people blogging are those like me; either writers developing an author platform or writers who are already well established. Because I read every blog I re-tweet, I have discovered blogs that cater to much more than just the writing journey I find myself on.  There are blogs about reading, cooking, raising children, health, sports, and so much more. What I have also discovered are faces. People with MS, Cancers, Lyme disease, mental illness. People who are victims and now survivors of some horrific act or social injustice.  Beautiful faces.

As a society, we can be very giving and in my heart of hearts, I honestly believe the majority of people are good and have the best of intentions when participating in any sort of event or fundraiser that benefits a cause.  My only suggestion is to take a moment and associate your participation, and your donation, with a face.

OK…time to lighten it up and address what you are probably asking by now. Why hot wax? Although the subject of hot wax paints a picture of a very beautiful Kelly LeBrock discussing evening plans with a teen’s parents in the movie Weird Science from the eighties, it means nothing more than the first thing I saw this morning when I turned my head to the left searching for a title to this blog since my mind was drawing a blank.  My wife has numerous little burner things around the house that burn scented wax. The one next to me happened to be knocked over by one of our cats and I just noticed there was still hot wax on the back side of the bar where it sits.  Had I turned to my right and searched for title inspiration this could just as easily have been titled “The Kitty Litter Challenge.”  It’s just how my mind works.

The title to my blog this week really doesn’t matter.  What matters?  The faces.


My Tata & Nana: Enrique and Socorro in their prime on a beach in Mexico. My Nana died on a Wednesday after complications brought on by both Alzheimer’s and kidney disease.  My Tata died from Leukemia, three days after my Nana. Doctors predicted he would last six months once diagnosed.  He lasted a year and a half because he was so worried about who would take care of his wife.  Two of my faces.




  1. emmawicker

    A wonderful post Bill. I am sorry for that you lost people that you love. Admittedly, I found myself frustrated by people moaning about the challenges that go viral. In my opinion, anything that points people towards a certain cause, is positive.

    • W.C. Cunningham

      Thanks Emma. It’s been some time since they have been gone but I look at all these events differently now both for their sake and others.

  2. philosophoenix

    Kitty Litter Challenge…it should be a thing. I appreciate what you said about seeing the faces of those who are benefitting from charitable challenges. That, more than anything else, is what anchors efforts of generosity in the best parts of out humanity.

    • W.C. Cunningham

      Thanks Erin. I tend to look for the best parts.

  3. Jill

    I really enjoyed reading this. The words “hot wax” reeled me in but this is really a strong and beautiful piece of writing that makes me question all of the ice bucket hype. I participated in the challenge and rolled it forward and hope it does someone some good in some way, but I will admit there were elements of my participation that felt slightly wrong and that we were making something serious in to something cheesy. I hope you have an awesome Labor Day!

    • W.C. Cunningham

      Thanks for reading and commenting Jill. I questioned the means but not the end result. I personally did not participate but my son did and I hope for the right reasons.

  4. woodbeez48

    A lovely post, Bill and one that brings home the point of all these charity challenges. We all know someone who has suffered and remembering them is what matters.

    • W.C. Cunningham

      Thank you Julie!

  5. perfectprosesservices

    Beautiful post. You’re right, about all of it. Even when we have or have had people close to us: friends, family, colleagues affected by a certain disease or illness, when we pay sponsor money or participate ourselves in charity events, unless it’s directly linked to our own circle, I think we generally don’t think about the faces, so thanks for reminding us we should. The ice bucket challenge is doing the rounds here in the UK at the moment and I wonder how many of us have thought about the sufferers of the illness we are raising funds for. Finally, oh yes, there are sooooo many blogs out there. Glad you are getting the time to read and appreciate them. Susan

    • W.C. Cunningham

      Thank you Susan. I suppose I have pretty strong feelings about the subject for a number of reasons. As for blogs, there are some great ones out there. An abundance of talent!

  6. denarogers

    I’m just now getting around commenting on your post, but you already know my thoughts on it. Beautifully written with just a little humor that brought a smile to someone’s face that really needed it. Thank you so much!

    • W.C. Cunningham

      Dena.. you are welcome so much. 🙂

  7. Carrie Lynn Lewis

    Hmm. You said hot wax and I thought… well, NOT candles!

    One of the risk of a high tech society is that we so often do not see faces. If anything, we see groups and lose sight of the individuals.

    Thank you for your reminder.

    • W.C. Cunningham

      Thank you for reading and commenting Carrie.

  8. Patricia Lynne (@plynne_writes)

    Great post. It is easy to forget about the faces when doing a fundraiser or challenge. With the recent Ice Bucket Challenge, I’ve seen a few videos of people suffering ASL that puts a face to why awareness is important.

  9. Anjali

    Thank you for dropping my blog Bill and helping me discover yours! I work at a charity and see suffering on a daily basis and see those faces all the time. And I am so glad that your post makes a point of it. Thank you for sharing!

    • W.C. Cunningham

      Thanks for dropping by yourself Anjali.

  10. Georgia Rose

    A beautifully written and thoughtful post Bill, thanks for sharing. It provides a much needed reminder to us all.

    • W.C. Cunningham

      Thank you Georgia!

  11. TuiSnider

    I, too, was lured in by the terms “hot wax”! Like many, I tend to be leery of things that go viral, but after looking into the ice bucket challenge I was happy to see that it has really boosted donations and made so many people aware of what ALS is.

    To me, adding something lighthearted to such a devastating illness can literally break the ice and get people talking about uncomfortable subjects.

    Thanks for sharing your insight and the faces of your loved ones!

    ~Tui, aka @TuiSnider on Twitter
    I’m belatedly dropping by from last week’s #StoryDam linky. Tonight’s topic is all about writers & their cats. Hope to see you there! 😀

    • W.C. Cunningham

      Thanks for dropping by and reading my post Tui. I believe most of these viral type of events serve a greater good.

  12. Mary Rowen

    Amazing post, Bill. You say so beautifully what I’ve thought so many times. It can definitely feel as though participants in these challenges get so wrapped to in the challenge that they forget why they’re doing it.

    • W.C. Cunningham

      Thank you Mary!

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