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Gene Simmons Raises Money for Vets, Meets Fans in Niagara Falls

Gene Simmons might be a demon on stage as the leader of KISS, but in person Thursday he was a real saint.

At the Hyde Park 7-Eleven in Niagara Falls - which recently began carrying Gene Simmons MoneyBag Sodas - the rock legend took pictures, signed autographs and raised money for the Veterans One-stop Center of WNY.

"We're here to raise money for the vets. Nice people in the area, Western New York, are paying $20 for the privilege of meeting yours truly. But the money goes to the local vets right here," Simmons said.

Those who paid $20 for a four-pack of root beer, crème soda, ginger ale or cola were afforded the opportunity to meet Simmons, get a professional photo, and have him sign their pop box.

A line of people wrapped around the outside of the store. Fans began waiting in line before 6 a.m.
One admirer, Christine Johnson of Niagara Falls, was in tears when she approached Simmons. He consoled her, offering a hug and a conversation before he signed her souvenir and posed for pictures.

"I brought pictures of when I was a kid, of my family and I with my KISS memorabilia. My mother worked hard her whole life for me. She's a single mother. I was an only child. And I never went without KISS stuff," Johnson said. "I always loved Gene Simmons. And my name's Christine, so my family still calls me 'Christine Sixteen' (the name of a KISS song). And when he was looking at the pictures, he saw a picture of me and my grandfather, and he said, 'That man meant everything to you, didn't he?' And I said, 'Yes, he did.' And I said, 'I can't go back there physically, but when I hear your music, it brings me right back.' And he said, 'For that little moment, right?' I said, 'I'm back there. My mother, my grandparents, my aunts, uncles, all my cousins, it just brings me back to a wonderful time.'

"It was very sentimental."

Simmons took off his signature sunglasses and placed them on Johnson.

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