'Dancing With the Stars' winner to speak at Clark

By Jacques Von Lunen, Columbian staff writer

Published:

Updated: January 26, 2012, 7:15 PM

 
photoJ.R. Martinez, an Army veteran who was badly burned after his Humvee hit a mine in Iraq, will be the keynote speaker at the Clark College commencement in June.

Army veteran and motivational speaker J.R. Martinez will be the keynote speaker at Clark College’s 2012 Commencement Ceremony on June 21, the college announced Thursday.

Martinez was the grand marshal in the 2012 Tournament of Roses Parade and the winner of television’s “Dancing with the Stars” in 2011. He’s also known for his role as a military veteran on “All My Children.”

Clark’s commencement ceremony will be held at 7 p.m. at the Sleep Country USA Amphitheater, 17200 N.E. Delfel Road, Ridgefield.

In April 2003, a Humvee that Martinez was piloting in Iraq hit a land mine. Martinez was trapped inside the burning vehicle and sustained severe burns to more than 40 percent of his body.

Martinez spent 34 months in a Texas hospital. During that time, a nurse asked Martinez to speak to a burn patient, who had just seen his body for the first time and had become withdrawn. Martinez convinced the injured soldier to open up and decided to use his experience to help others.

Since then, Martinez has become a sought-after motivational speaker, traveling the country to spread his message of resilience and optimism.