"If I ever become rich and famous I will do everything I can to make sure our military men and women are never disrespected like they are today," a 12-year-old Terry Fator said to himself while hearing his childhood's best friend tell nightmarish stories about his dad who had recently returned from Vietnam!
Fator and his best friend, Rick Singleton, were young boys living in Dallas, TX and were always together. It was Singleton's dad, Jerry Singleton, a Prisoner of War in Vietnam from 1965 to 1973, who himself had recently returned home but he also told stories of returning Vietnam Veterans who had been spat on in public, cursed, and accused of baby killing in America after simply serving their country and putting their lives on the line...
"I remember seeing Rick's father, Jerry, tearing up as he reflected on those stories after coming back home to an ungrateful nation," Fator said. "I remember saying to myself how wrong he had been treated and that I wish I could have done something. He went to war for our country - he didn't choose the war, he was just serving our country and our country turned on him and many other Vietnam veterans!"
Fator kept these images in his mind for many years. They would resurface many times during the years as he performed for small town fair audiences around the country trying to make it big as an entertainer. Fator was in a band, but his true love was ventriloquism - an art he began as a child. He found not only that he was an accomplished ventriloquist - he could also imitate many celebrity singers using his art.
Enter America's Got Talent! Fator tried out in season two and amazed the judges round after round! In fact, Piers Morgan said, "Terry Fator is the best ventriloquist I have ever seen." But then Simon Cowell took the accolades a step farther and declared Fator, "One of the best entertainers on the planet!"
In America's Got Talent finale, Fator and his most famous partner "Winston" rocked the judges and America by singing the Roy Orbison hit - Crying. Fator won! He was instantly not only famous, but rich too. He signed a record 10-year contract with Mirage Hotel and Casino on the famous Las Vegas Strip and now performs nightly in the "Terry Fator Theater" at the Mirage.
Remembering his childhood promise, Fator began a mission to make good on his commitment to America's military men and women. His first course of action was to honor veterans at each and every show! Then, he made a decision to take the profits from his Kiosk sales at the Mirage and donate the monies earned to Military Non-Profit charities. Terry contributes a significant portion of his profits to military charities. At this point, he has donated over a quarter of a million dollars!
He has travelled to Fort Hood, Texas and held a special performance for the soldiers and their families; last year he held a special performance for Wounded Warriors and also donated the proceeds from the show to the local Las Vegas USO - $40,606.65!
This Veterans Day, Terry Fator was instrumental in helping promote the special wounded warrior tribute at the Mirage Hotel and Casino. The hotel provided 160 rooms for the Wounded Warriors and their guests for three nights. All of the wounded warriors and their guests were treated to Fator's performance and a private meet and greet reception after the show. Terry and his wife Taylor made sure that they spent time to meet each and every Wounded Warrior.
Taylor Fator is very proud of her husband's dedication to America's troops. "It is important for Terry and I to make sure that these heroes know that they are the important ones in the world -- not us. Every American should take the time to thank a military member for their service. Their sacrifices have made it possible for us to live in a free country and I know Terry and I cannot thank them enough."
Today anyone with a military ID receives a 40 percent discount to see Terry Fator's show "Ventriloquism In Concert" at the Mirage, just another tribute he provides to our Armed Forces. Fator also has plans on doing more shows around the country and even possibly a television variety show in the near future.
One of Terry's favorite statements is, "What happened to the boy who suddenly got everything he ever wanted'" "He lived happily ever after - Maybe next time it'll be you."
If you are next, please fulfill your silent childhood promises as Fator has. Today our men and women return home to a grateful nation and Fator continues his pledge to make sure Americans never forget the errors of their ways to our Vietnam Veterans like Rick Singleton's father, Jerry Singleton'
On behalf of veterans everywhere - we salute you Terry!