Recently I had the opportunity to meet J.R. Martinez. He captured the hearts of America when he recently won the Dancing With The Stars competition.This accomplishment is particularly remarkable given the fact that as a 19 year old soldier in Iraq he suffered terrible injuries when the humvee he was driving hit a land mine. He was left disfigured and in despair. His life seemed over. His dream to play Pro Football was gone. After spending months in the hospital and undergoing countless plastic surgeries he said he wanted to die. His mother told him that the people that really mattered in his life still felt the same way about him regardless of his changed appearance. (What a wise mom).
JR shared that it was only as he started to reach out to other wounded soldiers that his life began to feel purposeful again. Service was such a key to his recovery. He also said one of the secrets of life is learning to adapt so we can overcome the challenges that come our way. He has become a motivational speaker inspiring many people with his message and humor and true love for people.
He also went on to land a part on the TV show, All My Children, for three months playing a wounded vet. He then found himself a smashing success on Dancing With The Stars. When one of my daughters in law found out he was going to be at our company’s convention she confessed to having a huge crush on him.
After he spoke, my husband and I went up on the stage to thank him. Right before we went up, I gave my husband that look that he has come to recognize as the “Oh No what is she planning now?” look. I told him to tell JR that since he (my husband) didn’t really like to dance, would he be so kind as to give me a twirl or two. JR graciously accepted the invitation. He took one of my hands and told me to put the other on his shoulder and said, “Just hang on tight.” And before I knew it I was being dipped, twirled and lifted! It was a moment I will not soon forget!
But in addition to his great dance moves those of us who heard him tell his story will also not soon forget, especially during our own times of discouragement and adversity, his powerful message. After all he has been through he says that he can actually say that he is grateful for that day his truck was blown up because it led him to the life he is living today. A life that he would not have necessarily chosen for himself but has more meaning than what he had planned. Serving, adapting, overcoming, and becoming. Now those are some really great moves to have in life.
Thanks, JR, for being such a classy guy.