Daniel’s Story, as told by INZANE SKINS customer, David Swayne
Last Memorial Day weekend I attended an event in Nashville TN called Creatures Fest, quite simply a KISS convention. I had the opportunity to meet Ace Frehley, Peter Criss, Bruce Kulick, and the ever-reclusive Vinnie Vincent. While meeting my heroes was a lifelong dream, nothing compares to my meeting a kid from Chattanooga, TN named Daniel Sneed. The first morning of the convention I noticed a gentleman (Daniel) dressed up as Ace Frehley in full makeup and costume. You could tell he was very excited and was running around in seven-inch heels. He was carrying with him a wooden paint stirrer; I'll explain the significance of this later.
I thought to myself "Oh my, this guy's is nuts". Absolutely horrible judgement on my part! Anyway, a little later Daniel came up to a bunch of us and introduced himself. In his southern draw, he told us that he was Ace's biggest fan and Ace is a guitar God. He also showed us a lanyard with his name on it, and he told us he is autistic. That explained it all about him, I have never met a person that has autism. I asked him about his costume and makeup. He excitedly told me he did is own makeup. It was flawless! Over the course of the three-day convention, he must have had his picture taken with fans at least a couple of hundred times. He endeared himself to everyone he met. He was the highlight of the convention for me. Friday night Ace Frehley and Peter Criss performed a concert, and there was Daniel front row and center, still in his Ace costume and makeup. Apparently, someone in Ace's management/security team, or the promoter of Creatures Fest got word of Daniel and arranged for him to meet Ace in a one on one after the concert. Daniel was over the moon meeting his idol, Ace gave him several signed photos and signed his paint stirrer as well. The next day another fan gave Daniel a free ticket to have his picture taken with Peter Criss. On the last day of the convention, there was a fan band jam, and Daniel played guitar along with other fans. He freekin nailed it. Had Ace's moves and playing ability down to a T. He was the hit of the jam.
One day I was talking with Daniel, and we talked about guitars. I told him I have seven and play. I asked him what his favorite guitar would be. He said he would like one that had the autism puzzle pieces and colors. That's how it started; I knew that I was going to get him that guitar. The very day I got home from the convention I ordered a guitar and had it shipped to Inzane Skins. I found John Gleneicki of Inzane Skins out of Laguna Niguel, California on the internet. His company “wraps” a guitar in vinyl, much like how cars are done. I explained my story about Daniel, the fact that he is autistic and his love of Ace. John and an artist friend of his (Rick Brown @rickbrownart) did all the design work, incorporating Ace and the autism puzzle pieces and colors. It also helped that they both are KISS fans. I am so excited to get the guitar. I am going to deliver the guitar to him personally when I receive it.
Fast forward to October 8th, the day of delivery! After an 8 plus hour drive from Central Illinois to Chattanooga, TN, I knocked on Daniel’s door. His mom answered the door and quietly pointed me to Daniels room. I knocked on the door and the surprise on his face when he saw me was indescribable. “David Swayne” he screamed in his southern draw! I told him I just happened to be in the neighborhood and decided to stop by. I explained to him what an honor it was meeting him at Creatures Fest, and I wanted to do something for him. I had a gift bag full of goodies. I gave him an Ace Frehley Silver coin from the 90’s, a package of KISS guitar picks, and an Ace Frehley lightning bolt guitar strap. All the while you could see the excitement on his face, like a child at Christmas!
After giving him these gifts, I said, “Well, now you have guitar picks and a new guitar strap all you need a new guitar to play. I excused myself and went out to my car and got the guitar. I re-told him the conversation we had at Creatures Fest as to what his favorite guitar would be. I said, “Here, I wanted to do this for you”. My heart was pounding with excitement, it was all I could do to hold back the tears of joy I felt at that moment, as my dream of having this guitar made and giving it to him was about to come true. To say he was overwhelmed is an understatement! All of us were tearing up. He soon went back to his room and began jamming with it. He sounded great!
Meeting Daniel has been a life altering event for me. I truly believe that God had a plan for our paths to cross. I am trying not to judge people by the way they act or look. Remember the old saying ... You can't judge a book by its cover. Also, please treat people like you would want to be treated. If we could all try to be a little less judgmental, kinder and more compassionate to our fellow man, this world would be a better place.
My absolute sincere thanks to John Gleneicki of Inzane Skins and Rick Brown (@rickbrownart) for all the work done on this guitar. There are just no words to convey to you both what this means to me, and what it means to Daniel as well. John, the work I have seen you do over the last 4 months skinning guitars is simply stunning! Continued success!
The paint stirrer I have been referring to is Daniel's "safety blanket." His mom told me that it calms him down.