J.R. Martinez story of courage inspires students

Teenagers who go to the Academy for Innovative Studies in Evansville are like any you know. They enjoy basketball, sleeping, and eating.

But they do go to an alternative school, and they don't all come from the best home.

“I grew up in a very poor household,” Jon Bellamy says.

One day hopes to build one better.

“Going and succeeding in college and making it through and supporting my own family,” Bellamy says is his goal. Reaching it may be easier said than done, if you believe the man he and his classmates are at the Victory Theater to see.

His name is J.R. Martinez, and some may recognize him from ABC daytime television or winning Dancing with The Stars. He’s visiting Evansville to motivate people to care with a lesson from someone who thought he had life figured out.

It all changed in the blink of an eye. February 2003, Martinez was in a Humvee in the Middle East. It hit an IED and he suffered severe burns.

Sometimes the path to your calling is a winding one.

“My mother was a single mother, and people gave me opportunity,” Martinez says. An American hero who now serves his country differently.

“I see myself in a lot of ways,” he says, “I was one of those kids,” pointing to the AIS students in the crowd. “I’m going to be part of the solution and not part of the problem.”

He sums up his message into two words to think about: Empathy and service. Sharing his story to inspire, never give up, and maybe give you courage to do something brave.

“I see the next J.R. Martinez doing bigger and better things than I’m doing.”

There is a story inside us all, and the kids in the crowd still have a lot of pages left to fill.

 

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(This story was originally published November 2, 2017)


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