DEE SNIDER: Wrestler MICK FOLEY Inspired Me To Be A Charitable Human Being

December 20, 2023

Dee Snider recently appeared on "Side Jams with Bryan Reesman" to talk about his journey into charitable work, which causes and organizations he works with, and how he wants to encourage people to do more. The TWISTED SISTER frontman also recalled how difficult it was initially to raise money and awareness for the Station Family Fund. It all started through a personal friend.

"Mick Foley, the wrestler — Mankind, Cactus Jack, Dude Love, and all those characters — he and I became very good friends," Snider told "Side Jams". "We lived near each other on Long Island, and we met and connected. Mick does insane amount of charity, and without making a big deal about it. Amazing. Put it this way — the man's married and he's got three or four kids. Mick would just in his spare time, go and knock on doors and show up at kids houses that he knew had were dying of cancer and were fans of his, and hang out and watch TV with them. And he called me one day and says, 'Listen, I'm visiting a kid in the hospital. He's got leukemia, he's a big fan of yours. Would you come with me?' So I went to the hospital and met this kid and saw what the kid got out of it, out of just that moment. When Mick drove me home, I said, 'Mick, you made me a better man today.' I'm getting a little choked up because I was so shaken. I said [to myself], 'Look at what Mick does, and look at what you don't do.' At the point, it was in the early 2000s, where I said, 'I need to do more. I need to give back. I need to say yes.' And not just send a guitar. By the way, all celebrities get these invitations, these opportunities to do more, and most of us just blow it off or send them an autographed picture or something. Thank you, Mick Foley, for waking me up and showing me that we can help. And there's something more that we need to do."

Snider spoke about various causes and organizations that he has been involved with over the years — the March Of Dimes, Bikers For Babies, helping homeless veterans, the Gibson Girl Foundation, the Station Family Fund, and more.

Recalling the Station fire in Rhode Island in 2003 that killed 100 people and injured 230, and subsequent fundraising efforts to help victims and families of victims, Snider recalled: "That was just so under-supported and so under-appreciated [or] respected. As I have said many times, if it had been U2 in an arena, that fire, the Pope would have showed up. It would have been an international outcry. But the fact that it was an '80s hair band in a little podunk bar in a small town on a Thursday night, just some blue-collar Janes and Joes, nobody gave a shit. And that was tragic. Fortunately, with the help of some friends, we were able to do something significant eventually and help those people out. But not after years and years of being ignored and suffering — it was just awful what happened to those people up there. No money came at all to help these people."

Snider continued: "I was trying to get something going after five years and just got such pushback and unwillingness of the biggest bands. But eventually — and credit to Troy Luccketta, the former drummer of TESLA, and TESLA, they were doing little things, raising little bits of money. But you were dealing with insane medical bills — thousands of dollars a day in the burn wards. It was crazy. Sixty kids were orphaned at that event. So eventually, thanks to Troy giving me the push, we took another shot at it. We gathered a ragtag bunch of country musicians — John Rich from BIG AND RICH, Gretchen Wilson and Dierks Bentley — and Tom Schultz, Carmine Appice, TWISTED SISTER and TESLA." (Also: WINGER, Eric Martin from MR. BIG, and Aaron Lewis from STAIND.) "VH1 got on board, and we got together at the arena in Rhode Island [in 2008] and put on a broadcast show. We raised some money — half a million dollars — but it was like $75,000 a day for the burn unit. We couldn't do anything [huge], but the event reawakened the awareness. And the lawyers and the insurance companies and the judges, all who were deadlocked about paying out, broke their freeze and paid out over $75 million to the fun. When I say people were made whole, of course they weren't made whole, but at least they got the insurance money, and they were no longer living on couches, having lost their homes because they couldn't work.

"And that's what I always tell people," said Snider. "Charity work isn't just about what you do on the day of the event — how many people show up, how much money you raise that day — it's about the awareness you raise for the cause while promoting it. Those people who hear about it because you were talking about it — maybe not now, but maybe the next time they'll write a check, or they'll throw some money in the bucket or whatever. These events are not just about raising money, it's raising awareness that the need is out there."

During the "Side Jams" interview, Snider also praised the motorcycle community whom he has frequently worked with.

"[They're] an incredibly generous group of people," said Snider. "The range goes from plumbers to teachers to lawyers to doctors. When we're all on our Harley Davidsons wearing a leather jacket and a pair of jeans and a helmet, it's hard to tell who's who until you start talking to them. But I discovered that this community will turn out one weekend for my thing for Children's Cancer and March of Dimes. And the next is breast cancer. And the week after that it's a food drive, and they go weekend after weekend and they're constantly giving. I don't know what it is about that community that has this awareness that there's a need, but I knew very well that they weren't just showing up for my event because 'Dee is calling us'. It was Dee this weekend, but it was another group, American Cancer Society, the next week, or Breast Cancer Awareness the weekend after that. These weren't mostly young people, they were mostly people hitting their 30s and 40s and older where they just seemed to have this understanding that it was our job to help."

In 2016, TWISTED SISTER embarked on one final trek, titled "Forty And Fuck It", in celebration of its 40th anniversary. These shows featured the band's "core lineup" of Snider, guitarists Jay Jay French and Eddie Ojeda and bassist Mark "The Animal" Mendoza, along with Mike Portnoy, who has played drums for TWISTED SISTER since the passing of former member A.J. Pero. The band's last-ever concert took place in November of that year — 20 months after Pero's death.

TWISTED SISTER's original run ended in the late '80s. After more than a decade, the band publicly reunited in November 2001 to top the bill of New York Steel, a hard-rock benefit concert to raise money for the New York Police And Fire Widows' And Children's Benefit Fund.

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