Tag: Fundraising

My Year In Review – Numbers

The Bridge

Happy New Year! This is my first post of the year and sadly, my first post in about three and half months. I probably should have written a post saying I was going to take a break for a few months. To do whatever people do when they take breaks. My apologies for not doing that. But, I’m here now.

Like many people, I enjoy taking a moment to reflect on the previous year. A year in review if you will. Not so much a way of dwelling on the past, but as a way of learning and reminding myself that the positive events in my life greatly outnumber the negative events. Always. And for that I am grateful.

So, 2016 by a few numbers that were important to me…

1 – That would be for one year. On January 4th, I celebrated one year of not having a cigarette. I quit for many reasons. My wife. My kids. And selfishly, for me which is what my last year spare time efforts have been geared around: improving my health. So not really a full year in 2016 and more like 362 days but I’ll round it up and say a year.

2 – I had two meals on business trips that were not paid for by the company. The first meal I had was dinner with a wonderful friend and her family. What’s special is that she is a fellow writer and we were meeting in person for the first time after having “met” on the internet. The second meal was with a childhood friend I hadn’t seen since I was 13 years old. It was great to re-connect with him and meet his wonderful wife.

3 – I ran a 5K for Veteran’s Day in November. It was my first organized 5K in many years and my first one running as a non-smoker. I took 3rd place in my age group and my 13-year-old son took 3rd in his age group despite walking his. My wife walked it too.

3.85 – This was my eldest son’s GPA last semester in college. He’s in his second year of college studying to be a physician assistant. There are several classes that tend to weed kids in the program starting their freshman year. I believe this is one way a school maintains their national ranking along with their high percentage of students who pass their respective licensing tests after graduation.  He had gross anatomy last semester. Lecture and lab. Yes, I’m proud of him.

10 – How many Jack Reacher novels I read last year which brings me up to 19 of them. I did much more reading in 2016 than I did writing. I think I needed it.

13 – How many years it took my youngest son to become the tallest person in our family. I’m not sure what happened here but he had an amazing growth spurt this last year. He’s the tall one in the back.

16 – How old my 13-year-old acts. Scary.

21 – I had a surgery on December 21st. It was my first surgery and a huge part of why I focused so much on health in 2016. The surgery had been planned since the day I quit smoking and I was determined to go into it being in the best shape I could possibly be in. I was. I’m so thankful it all went as planned, I’m recovering nicely, and I get to return to work tomorrow.

24 – How many times I have said “Happy New Year” to my wife.

24 – How many tamales I ordered last year for Christmas. Something important to me considering that I live about 2200 miles away from where I grew up. A little bit of the Southwest celebrated here in NY.

40 – How many years in a row I have been working steady. I’ve worked for 43 but the first three years were mostly summer jobs. So, 40 is the number and therefore, how many years I have been paying taxes. I’ve worked steady since I was 16. Why is this relevant? During the heated political climate we’ve experienced here in the states as of late, there has been a level of both arrogance AND stupidity that I have not witnessed in my lifetime. On both sides. I made the mistake of reading one of the “trending” topics in social media one day that led me down a serious of tweets by people, mainly younger college age kids along with a few I would guess to be in their later twenties or early thirties, trying to make an argument that people over a certain age shouldn’t be allowed to vote. This is their world now and older people shouldn’t have a say or voice. That “older” age group included me so I wanted to respond to some of these comments but I didn’t. That would only feed the trolls. But it pissed me off.

I’d like to think that normally I am a “peace, love and light” kind of guy despite my internal ranting and un-politically correct type thought process at times. I’d like to think that age has granted me some sort of calmness and wisdom earned from years of life experiences. That knowledge reminding me to keep my mouth shut. In my mind though, I tweeted a response on the subject that said “I’ve paid taxes for 40 years. I’ve earned that vote. So STFU.” Yes…, no substance and somewhat of an attack and why I kept it to myself. See, even older people can be idiots for a moment and I had only just learned that new acronym. OK… my only words on politics. I promise.

63 – How many pounds I lost last year. That’s three bags of dog food worth. It sure makes running easier. And life.

100 – The company I work at celebrated their 100-year anniversary last year. Specifically, the factory and business itself which has operated under many names over those 100 years. We had a huge celebration event enjoyed by current employees, retirees, and a few local and state politicians. I was amazed at the historical aspect of this and felt blessed to be a part of it with my short ten years of working there.

219 – That’s how many calories are in my favorite beer. That’s not a good thing. This is what happens when one discovers craft beer IPAs.

311 – That’s how many days in a row I logged into My Fitness Pal and tracked my food and exercise during 2016. My last post was about what was going on around 200 Days. I’m at 319 today! Accountability.

472.5 – That’s how many miles I intentionally walked, hiked, or ran last year. These were miles tracked on Map My Run starting in April of 2016. Which communicates with Map My Fitness which also communicates with my Fitbit.  This stuff all confuses the hell out of me but it seems to all work. Tools.

1000 – That’s how many miles I intend to walk, hike, or run in 2017. Intentional miles or planned exercise as opposed to Fitbit miles. I think it’s doable based on the number of miles I was averaging toward the last part of 2016 before my surgery.

There are several of these challenges one can find on the internet. I signed up for this specific one because half the money the organizer raises from the registration goes to charity and there is a team effort on raising money for charities for each mile walked.

2017 – May your 2017 be filled with light, love, and laughter!


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.



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