Veterans find inspiration in 'Dancing With the Stars'
Reporter: Corinne Hautala
TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) – The coveted mirror ball trophy, in season 13 of “Dancing With the Stars,” went to J.R. Martinez and his partner Karina Smirnoff.
Martinez is an Iraq war veteran who was injured when his vehicle struck a land mine. He suffered severe burns over 40% of his body, and his recovery was marked by several painful surgeries and years of rehab.
Chuck Hudson, a veteran from Marana, says he was almost brought to tears when Martinez was announced as the winner.
“I can't describe it. I kind of got a lump in my throat,” said Hudson.
Hudson says he’s been following Martinez on “Dancing With the Stars” and was rooting for his fellow veteran from the beginning.
“It just takes a lot of willpower,” Hudson said describing Martinez’s perseverance.
Reginald Powell, of Tucson, served in the Iraq war. He says he started following Martinez’s story well before the national attention.
“I followed what's gone on with him somewhat since the war. What he's gone through,” he said.
After receiving the mirror ball trophy, Martinez went to his twitter page, where he thanked his fans and tweeted, “It was a perfect ending to a memorable season.”