Kiss members Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley took a break from rockin’ and rollin’ all night to visit with some of Kansas City’s veterans Tuesday.
More than 50 veterans from the Kansas City VA Medical Center were treated to lunch by the band members at Rock & Brews at Prairiefire in Overland Park. The co-lead singers of the band gave away tickets to their Wednesday concert at Silverstein Eye Centers Arena in Independence and also partnered with Cars for Heroes to give a car to a special veteran.
“Charity and giving back is not an option; it’s an obligation,” Stanley said. “It’s easy to talk about it, but you have to walk the walk. We try to make sure that every Rock & Brews recognizes and embraces the community, and that means the military.”
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Rock & Brews, a chain restaurant themed around the glory days of rock and roll, counts Simmons and Stanley as two of its five founding partners. As a brand, it supports wounded warriors, veterans and active military organizations and causes. Stanley and Simmons attend every opening of a new location.
The pair had arrived in Kansas City the night before from Colorado and wanted to make this visit because of how much the brand means to them.
“We all take so many things for granted,” Simmons said. “Everything that we do, we do conscientiously to say thank you.”
The band’s current “Freedom to Rock Tour” represents their devotion to the nation’s veterans, Stanley said. Simmons said the tour partnered with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the Hiring Our Heroes program to give veterans a chance to work on the tour at each of its stops.
“For us, so many people who were born into freedom believe that freedom is free,” Stanley said. “Those who pay a price for it never really get what they deserve. These are the heroes that make everything we have possible and when they come back — whether it’s medical help, psychological help, financial help — it’s never readily available.
“We want to spotlight the plight of these people, who really are too honorable and have too much pride to ask for what they need,” he said.
When being interviewed, Simmons directed the attention away from himself to a Vietnam War veteran, David Hamam of Kansas City. Hamam said he was grateful for what the Kiss members were doing.
“I feel like I fought in Vietnam because I wanted to help our country and fight for our land, but I want no praise for it,” Hamam said.
“It’s great to see you (here),” he said to Simmons.
“It means a million to me,” he continued. “It’s the nicest thing they could do. Thank you for the pizza.”
Simmons, seemingly in disbelief, said: “He’s thanking me for the pizza.”
Turning to Hamam, he responded: “Thank you for risking your life to make us safe.”
Kiss will perform Wednesday
Kiss will bring its “Freedom to Rock Tour” to Silverstein Eye Centers Arena in Independence. “American Idol” winner Caleb Johnson will open at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday. Tickets are $39.50-$125 at ticketmaster.com.