Wednesday, November 30, 2011


Did anyone call for a hometown hero? If so, I say it would be J.R. Martinez! Martinez was the winner of Season 13, “ Dancing With The Stars”. He was also chosen to be the Grand Marshall of the 2011 Rose Parade. Martinez has played the role of Brot Monroe on the TV Daytime Soap “All My Children” for the past 8 years. On the show, his character was in the Army, served in Iraq and sustained injuries. The role is perfect for Martinez because he too, served in Iraq.

 In April of 2003, Martinez was serving as a Humvee driver when the wheel of his vehicle ran over a landmine. He suffered from smoke inhalation and was severely burned over 40% of his body. He was sent to Germany for immediate care and then to Texas where he spent 34 months in the hospital undergoing 33 cosmetic and skin graft surgeries.

If that alone didn’t qualify Martinez to be a hero, how about this: While still in the hospital, he began talking to other burn victims, encouraging them and helping them begin the journey to recovery. Presently he serves as a member of the Board of Directors of The Phoenix Society for Burn Survivors.  He first attended the Phoenix Society's World Burn Congress in 2008,  and was a featured speaker at the 2010 World Burn Congress. Martinez has had a fellow burn survivor, Jenna Bullen, attend taping of "Dancing with the Stars" as his guest and has taped a public service announcement with her on behalf of the Phoenix Society for Burn Survivors.

He is called on by a wide range of groups, including large corporations, veterans groups, non-profits and schools, and has shared the stage with the likes of global self-help guru Tony Robbins and Evangelist Dave Roever. In 2008, Martinez was honored as a "Shining Star of Perseverance" by the WillReturn Council of Assurant Employee Benefits. In 2009 Martinez was honored by the non-profit Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA) with the Veterans Leadership Award, given in recognition of his dedication to our nation's newest generation of veterans. Martinez has been featured in The Washington Post, People magazine, on CNN's Sunday Morning, on TV show 60 Minutes, and other major national news outlets.

I can’t think of a better role model than J.R. Martinez. His courage, intestinal fortitude, drive and concern for others makes him #1 in my book!

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