On Tuesday, Martinez was named the grand marshal of the 2012 Tournament of Roses festivities — which includes the well-known Rose Bowl Parade — in Pasadena, Calif. Martinez will ride in the 123rd Rose Parade and will also toss the coin before the 98th Rose Bowl football game.
“To be able to participate in this iconic American tradition on New Year’s Day is something I could only imagine,” Martinez said. “I believe everything happens for a reason, and I’m grateful the events of my life have provided me with the opportunity to share my message of hope and possibility on New Year’s Day.”
The football field will be a familiar place for Martinez — after moving to Dalton in 2001, he joined the Dalton High School football team, became a starter on special teams and contributed to the Catamounts’ run to the state title game.
The Rose Parade will be Monday, Jan. 2, 2012, at 11 a.m. featuring majestic floral floats, high-stepping equestrian units and spirited marching bands. Following the parade, the Rose Bowl Game will kick off at 5:10 p.m. and feature a matchup between two of the top college teams in the country.
Martinez is a 2002 graduate of Dalton High School and was injured in Iraq the following year when the Humvee he was driving hit a land mine. He suffered burns to 40 percent of his body and has undergone 33 surgeries including skin grafts and cosmetic surgery.
In October 2008, Martinez was cast as combat veteran “Brot Monroe” on ABC’s Emmy Award-winning soap opera “All My Children.” Today, Martinez also balances his schedule with speaking engagements along with his extensive charity work with organizations including Operation Finally Home, Phoenix Society, the USO and Iraq Star.
Martinez is currently on the cast of ABC’s “Dancing With the Stars.”
“J.R. Martinez is an inspiration to us all and a natural fit for our theme Just Imagine ... ,” said Rick Jackson, president of the Tournament of Roses. “J.R. is not only a courageous and engaging role model for us all but has dedicated himself to helping not only servicemen and servicewomen, but all Americans facing challenges. His outlook on life is admirable and we couldn’t be happier to have the chance to celebrate the New Year with him as we entertain the millions of fans around the world during the Rose Parade and Rose Bowl Game.”
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