Sunday, May 29, 2011

KISS Collector Helps His Father-In-Law

By Sarah Acosta/Photo - Todd Yates/Caller-Times

Fanatic KISS memorabilia collector to auction items for a good cause

Local Fred Medina fell in love with the band KISS at a young age, and it took him 20 years to collect $30,000 of band memorabilia.

But he is willing to give it all up because of his love for his father-in-law, Ricardo Cruz, and what he did for his daughter.

A member of the KISS Army, the official band fan club, Medina has decided to auction and raffle off his several hundred KISS collectibles Sunday at Brewster Street Ice House to raise money for the Ricardo Cruz Foundation. The organization is helping pay for Cruz's cancer treatments.

Medina said he has had time to cherish these items, and it's now time for others to enjoy them.

"All of these things are replaceable, but my family isn't," Medina said.

In 2008, during Hurricane Ike, Medina and his wife, Kathy, took their three children to the doctor to get checked up before they evacuated. The doctor discovered that his youngest daughter, 3 at the time, had aplastic anemia. She was rushed to Driscoll Children's Hospital and immediately underwent blood transfusions.

A doctor later told the family that a bone marrow exam was inevitable because the transfusions were not working.

Medina said the family was in deep prayer during that week.

"At one point during prayer he (Cruz) embraced me and kept asking God not to take his baby girl, to take him instead," Medina said.

Three days later, the doctor told them the transfusions were working, and that she would get better. Three years later, she is healthy.

However, three months later Cruz, who according to Medina had never shown any signs of illness, was stricken with stage four throat cancer and has spent the past three years battling the disease.

Medina said his mother-in-law had to leave her job for six months to be by her husband's side and lost her full-time job.

"Starting the Ricardo Cruz Foundation and offering up my collection is the least thing we can do for a man that has paid the ultimate sacrifice," Medina said. "I don't even want a key chain left."

Not only does he have every record, but he has the original album inserts. Medina's collection also includes items like KISS 3-D head busts signed by all four original band members, special-edition posters, mint condition comics and signed guitars held by Gene Simmons.

Medina had his collection appraised and insured eight years ago when he also had his house appraised. The collection was worth $30,000 and he has added items since.

Medina has had a passion for KISS since he heard the song "Rock and Roll All Nite" when he was about 6 years old, and views co-founder Gene Simmons as a hero. He grew up as a Jehovah's Witness, and said his mother would forbid him to listen to the band.

Medina said if anything, the band's rebellious appeal drew him in more. He said when he was at Wynn Seale Middle School he and his friends saved up $15 for tickets to a KISS concert at the Memorial Coliseum. They didn't go home after school that day and walked to the show.

"When I finally saw Gene on stage, I froze like a zombie for an hour," Medina said. "I couldn't believe I was seeing them on stage, but man, my parents put a whooping on me when I showed up at home at 11:30 at night."

The foundation sent KISS an email through the KISS Army, and Simmons was so touched by the family's story he sent them a $1,000 check and two guitars he designed and autographed, along with backstage passes to any KISS concert in Texas to be auctioned. Simmons also will broadcast a message during the event.

"Whether we have a great turnout or not, nothing can get better than having Gene Simmons, my idol growing up, get involved," Medina said. "I was speechless."

The authorized KISS band Destroyer will play at the event and C-101's Rex Gabriel will emcee.