KISS star partners with Henrico organization
A&E show to highlight Simmons' trip to Zambia with ChildFund International
Gene Simmons, legendary lead singer of the band KISS, was on television June 25, but not in his usual rock-star role. His show, Gene Simmons Family Jewels, featured his recent trip to Zambia, where he met up with several children he sponsors through Henrico-based ChildFund International.
The experience was originally a surprise to Simmons, planned by his new wife, Shannon Tweed, for the couple’s honeymoon.
“[Shannon] decided she wanted to go to Africa, and that’s where this brainchild of hers started,” said Cynthia Price, ChildFund’s director of communications. Price worked with the show’s production company to coordinate the trip and accompanied the couple to Zambia.
Simmons sponsors more than 140 children, Price said.
“Gene came to ChildFund the way so many people do,” she said. “He was watching TV, saw the commercial, and he was moved by it, so he sponsored his first child, and then many more.”
Price hasn’t seen the episode but hopes it will portray the trip well. The trip began with Simmons being introduced to one of his sponsored children named Edward. Edward then walked Simmons around the area, showing Simmons the long distances from his water source to the road going to his school.
“Gene was overwhelmed by it,” Price said, “moved to tears actually.”
During the trip, the couple visited three different schools, where he met several of his other sponsor children. Simmons and Tweed were both impacted significantly by the poverty they saw.
“I will waste less, spend less and appreciate more,” Tweed said.
The episode aired on A&E.
“It’s a great way for people who might be considering sponsorship to see how real it is and the impact that a person can have overseas,” Price said. “And obviously, we hope it moves more people to sponsor.”
ChildFund International is headquartered in Henrico's Near West End. The organization was founded in 1938 by a former minister in Richmond to help children in China who were orphaned by the war, Price said.
Sponsoring a child costs $28 a month, and ChildFund works with local partners within the affected areas because “they understand the culture and environment and issues and opportunities,” Price said.
“You as a potential sponsor can pick which country you want, and we have 31 countries,” she said. “You can pick the age of the child, the sex of the child and then the money that you give each month goes to the child’s family and to the community.”
Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden’s admission has increased by $1 across all categories. Admission is now $12 for adults; $11 for seniors ages 55 and older; and $8 for children ages 3–12. Admission remains free for children ages 3 and younger and for members.
The last price increase was in 2011, before the Garden consistently hosted Butterflies LIVE! (which is included with admission). > Read more.
The threat of bad weather didn’t keep visitors away from Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden July 10 for the facility’s weekly Flowers After 5 event (which pairs music and food with a chance to stroll the garden) and its monthly Fidos After 5 (which allows dog owners to bring their pets with them to enjoy the evening). > Read more.
Thanks in part to a $10,000 gift from the Western Henrico Rotary Club, another bright pink Jeep modified to travel extremely rough terrain has been delivered to Midwives For Haiti so that more pregnant women in the quake-ravaged country will have access to prenatal care and a greater chance of surviving childbirth.
The funds were raised at the annual casino night held in February, club president Adam Cherry said. The Rotary Club also helped purchase the Virginia-based charity’s first pink jeep three years ago. > Read more.
A finalist in the Bravo television show Top Chef is bringing one of his four restaurant chains to Henrico County.
Bryan Voltaggio, who was the runner-up of the sixth season of Top Chef, (finishing second to his brother, Michael) and his business partner, Hilda Staples, will open their third Family Meal restaurant, at Henrico's Willow Lawn shopping center. The restaurant is expected to open early next year. > Read more.
The United States Army Field Band will present a free public performance at Deep Run Park in Henrico on Sunday, Aug 3 at 3 p.m.
Members of the band are soldiers who also serve as “musical ambassadors of the Army” and perform for schools and communities nationwide.
The Concert Band will be performing along with the Soldiers’ Chorus. > Read more.
Get up and dance – square dance, that is – with the Tuckahoe Square Dance Club tonight! More musical events this weekend include family-friendly karaoke at Aunt Sarah’s Pancake House, the United States Army Field Band and Soldiers’ Chorus Concert and the Henrico Teen Theatre Company’s production of “The Boy Who Cried Wolf.” For all our top picks this weekend, click here! > Read more.
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CalendarThe Henrico Division of Police will host a free Community Day on Aug. 2 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Western Government Center Complex, 4301 E. Parham Road.… Full text