Hanging Out with Gene Simmons of KISS

By Cynthia Price, ChildFund Director of Communications

ChildFund Director of Communications and Gene Simmons

With Gene on location  in Zambia.

OMG! I’m in an African village with Gene Simmons of KISS. Yes, that KISS.

He’s an imposing man. Six-feet, two-inches, and all action. He’s here in Zambia to take action – to meet the children he has sponsored through ChildFund for years and to determine what else he can do to help.logo

The experience will be captured for an episode of his reality TV show, Gene Simmons Family Jewels. His wife, Shannon, helped organize the trip.

I’ve been to ChildFund programs before. I’ve seen the dirt roads. The thatched houses with no running water or electricity. The classrooms with nubby pencils and recycled newspaper as activity books. I know what we’re about to see. Gene and Shannon don’t.

“We came here with a TV show. Let’s go to Africa and visit the children. It’s a nice sound bite,” Gene says. “But what happened along the way is that real life got in the way. We’re going to do something about this.”

Shannon adds, “Poverty and starvation… once you see it in person, you can’t walk away.”

And they don’t. They go for total immersion. And they’ve brought gifts for the children: school supplies, soccer balls, backpacks and clothing. There’s even a bicycle for one of Gene’s sponsored children, so he doesn’t have to walk the long distance to school. Shannon gives one young woman the shoes off her feet.

As we talk about what they saw and experienced, Gene often has to pause because he’s choked up. I’ve seen KISS perform – who would ever expect Gene to be quiet? But it was a lot to take in. “Here is a wake-up call,” Gene says, after meeting Edward, one of his sponsored children. “We must do something.”

Gene Simmons with guitar and children

Music is a universal connector.

Gene and Shannon are absolutely great with the children. They spend tons of time with them. At the schools we visit, they often sing with the children and in one school, Gene plays guitar.

What’s really amazing about the visit is that Gene and Shannon don’t act like rock stars. They’re truly humbled by the experience. “It really makes you appreciate the little things,” Shannon says. “I will waste less, spend less and appreciate more.”

The trip to Africa, Gene adds, is a “stark reminder that life doesn’t treat everyone the same.”

ChildFund supporters like Gene and Shannon help change those circumstances. Although the children didn’t recognize Gene as a celebrity – even when he handed out KISS swag – he’s a rock star in their eyes because he is their ChildFund sponsor.

2 Responses to Hanging Out with Gene Simmons of KISS

  • Tommy Thayer, member of KISS, visited my 23-year-old journalist grandson Jake McNeal when Jake was hospitalized for a month in Portland, Oregon. Tommy brought his parents along. The visit buoyed Jake’s spirits on the even of a successful cancer surgery. Rock stars like Tommy Thayer and Gene Simmons are good people. Glad that ChildFund can point that out.

  • Some are real people. Thanks to Gene and wife on behalf of Zambia children. The couple are “real” in all measures of the word and insight of humanity.

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