"...a hero is an ordinary individual who finds strength to persevere and endure in spite of overwhelming obstacles."
-- Christopher Reeve
J.R. Martinez's is a heart-enveloping story of determination, decision and endurance.
Burned over 40% of his body, suffering smoke inhalation and near death, in 2003 his Humvee drove over a land mine in Iraq when he was just 19 years old. Rather than re-tell his story, read his bio. I can't imagine anyone not agreeing.
I was introduced to J.R. through his appearance in Dancing with the Stars. A long-time fan of the show, I usually end up with mad love great affection for a few of the celebrities each year; not necessarily the best dancers, but the people with inviting personalities and heart-warming story. (Well, sometimes the show's winners, like when my grade school boyfriend Donny Osmond defied age and odds to come away the winner in 2009.)
J.R.'s hometown is about half an hour from me and a few weeks ago he was in town to speak to a group of students. I couldn't have been more disappointed not to get to hear him (and potentially meet him), but I had a conflict with the timing. Dang it.
J.R.'s humility, regard for others and dance style has me crossing my fingers for him and his partner Karina Smirnoff. You can tell she's been affected by her partner in the best of ways.
Last night's package (the intro clip shown just prior to the dance) and dance moved me to tears. AND NEVER BEFORE HAVE I CRIED WATCHING DANCING WITH THE STARS! Geez...
Following the performance there wasn't a dry eye in the house, and the only response was standing ovation.
Watch and see, and even if you don't give a rip about Dancing with the Stars, you'll appreciate this True American Hero.