As Mick Foley made his way through the Richmond, Va. airport, heads jerked up quickly.
Men in business suits did a double take. Airport workers looked up with smiles.
Construction workers elbowed each other, at first wondering if it really was the man who wrestled professionally under the names Cactus Jack, Mankind and Dude Love.
Then, confident the large man was Foley, they greeted him, hands held like pistols, shaking them at him — a well-known greeting associated with Cactus Jack.
Mick Foley with his sponsored child Herma Grace (pink T-shirt) and her younger brother in the Philippines.
Each time, the ever-gracious Foley flashed his toothy grin and greeted his fans both warmly and humbly.
While Foley is grateful for his professional wrestling career, he hopes one day people will recognize him in the airport for another reason.
“I want people to stop me because they know I’m a Christian Children's Fund sponsor,” said Foley, who has sponsored children with CCF since 1992. “I want them to say they saw me in ChildWorld because I sponsor children with CCF.”
Foley, a well-known figure in the world of professional wrestling, has experienced a change of heart. And it has everything to do with his sponsored child from the Philippines, Herma Grace.
And now, Foley wants everyone to know his story as a Champion for Children.
Foley traveled to CCF’s headquarters on March 21 to accept a plaque designating him as a Partnership Patron in CCF’s Champions for Children Society. Foley received the honor based on his level of contributions since becoming a sponsor.
Menacing glares, burly biceps, Samson hair — that’s all for the wrestling ring, said Foley, who reached the status of “Hardcore Legend”. When it comes to children, the 40-year-old believes sponsorship and professional wrestling make a perfect pair.
“I would describe it as a paradox,” Foley said. “It wouldn’t seem to make sense, but the further you look at it, it makes perfect sense. We are around kids all the time. So it’s natural for us to help kids.”
However, Foley is quick to admit that it took a little something extra to pull at the strings of his heart and to open his wallet.
“It was guilt,” Foley said of his decision to begin sponsoring a child with CCF. “I was known as the cheapskate of world wrestlers. … Herma Grace unscrewed the bolt on my checkbook.
“For the first few years, I gave the minimum. I had late payments. Luckily, I got a second chance with another child when I started sponsoring Herma Grace. When she wrote and said, 'May God shower you with blessings,' it melted my heart.”
Because of Herma Grace, Foley decided to participate in a February WWE event in Manila. Despite being retired, he agreed primarily for the opportunity to visit her under CCF’s country visitation program. Foley also committed to donate his earnings from the event to build an early childhood care and development center for the community in which Herma Grace lives.
Already, Foley donated the proceeds from his children’s book “Tales from Wrescal Lane,” which enabled him to partner with CCF-Philippines to build an early childhood care and development center in Southern Luzon, Philippines.
Foley loves all of his sponsored children. In fact, during a tour of the CCF headquarters in March, all it took was one look at a stunning photo of a young boy in Sierra Leone for Foley to sponsor another child — bringing his current total of sponsored children to five.
In addition to his sponsorship, Foley wants to focus on building more ECD Centers and other community-based initiatives.
“It’s about establishing relationships with children in need,” Foley said. “It’s about letting children with very little in their lives, through no fault of their own, know that someone out there cares.”