When Terry Fator learned of the opportunity to be the presenting sponsor for the third annual USA Hockey Warrior Classic, it was a no-brainer for the popular entertainer.
After all, it’s the perfect way to combine his passion for helping military service members when they come back home with his love for hockey.
“I’m a huge supporter of the military,” said Fator, who won the 2017 Bob Hope Award for his service to the military. “USA Hockey is just such an incredible organization that gets behind these people and gets behind these warriors. To be able to be a part of this is such a huge, huge experience for me. I’m so proud to be a part.”
The USA Hockey Warrior Classic, presented by Terry Fator, centers on USA Hockey’s newest disabled hockey discipline, warrior hockey. Warrior teams from around the country will participate in a weekend of hockey that is dedicated to U.S. military veterans with a disability who also play ice hockey. The event is free to participate for all eligible players.
The third edition of the tournament will take place from Oct. 4-7 at City National Arena in Las Vegas. The arena serves as the practice facility and team headquarters of the Vegas Golden Knights, which has seen a number of local and national celebrities, including Fator, not only attend games or take part in pre-game celebrations, but become true team fans.
Fator’s passion for assisting military veterans began at an early age, and he’s carried that passion with him throughout his life. After winning the second season of “America’s Got Talent” with his talent as a comedian, singer and celebrity impressionist, Fator’s platform to help former service members has grown exponentially since 2007.
“I had a lot of friends whose parents were in Vietnam,” Fator said. “My parents [weren’t], but I had a lot of friends whose dads were in Vietnam. In fact, one of them was a prisoner of war for seven years in Vietnam. And I remember, very distinctly, watching him weep and talk about how it broke his heart to see how people treated him when he got home. I was only about eight, and it just broke my heart. I just couldn’t understand it.
“It just did not register in my brain, and I said if I ever get to a point where I have a say, then my message to people is going to say, ‘Listen, politics aside, we’ve got to support these people who are going out and doing their job.’ There’s just no other choice. We have to. We absolutely have to. We cannot let these folks feel dejected for doing their job. That’s just very important to me.”
Fator believes events like the USA Hockey Warrior Classic are vital for military veterans who play hockey but have disabilities from their injuries sustained during their service. Tournaments, and USA Hockey’s disabled hockey disciplines, can also be inspiring for other disabled service members who are still searching for ways to move forward with their lives after returning home from combat.
“I think a lot of times when there’s a life-changing event like an injury or disability, the temptation can be, ‘Oh my gosh, my life is over. I’m not going to be able to do anything with my life anymore.’” Fator said. “Events like these, the sled and warrior hockey disciplines USA Hockey supports, just show that they have the support of those around them, and that they can live a very productive and happy life and that the rest of us are cheering them on for it.
“We’re just helping to provide a venue for them so they can get out there and compete, just like they did before they were injured. It’s wonderful to see the amount of pride that goes into it and the amount of fulfillment it brings to these guys and girls.”
Fator can’t help but to be affected by the gratitude shown by military veterans when they receive a helping hand because he knows that they are the ones who have truly sacrificed.
“It’s so humbling,” Fator said. “They are so grateful. When you get an award like the Bob Hope Award, it’s so humbling to me because my attitude is, ‘You are the ones out there doing this.’ All I do is just reach out a hand and thank you.”
Story from Red Line Editorial, Inc.