Advocacy Award

JR Martinez is awarded the first ever Phoenix Society Advocacy Award by the Board of Directors

JR Martinez with fellow burn survivor at Phoenix World Burn Congress 2012At closing ceremony of the Phoenix World Burn Congress 2012, J.R. Martinez was presented with the Phoenix Society’s Advocacy Award. The award, which was established in 2012, was intended to acknowledge an individual whose advocacy efforts have brought greater awareness to the burn community by actively providing education and promoting positive change.

J.R. was injured in 2003 while serving with the U.S. Army in Iraq.  He gained fame when, following his injury, he was cast in the popular soap opera All My Children and,  in 2011, when he won the coveted “mirrorball trophy” as a contestant in Dancing With the Stars. J.R. has used his visibility to demonstrate that you can get back to living and fulfill your dreams after a burn injury.

“As we watched the public accept him for who he is – the caring, compassionate, and competitive guy who could dance,” explained the Society’s Executive Director Amy Acton, “we all understood this was a significant moment for the burn community.”

J.R. has increased awareness of the burn community and the important programs of the Phoenix Society in national interviews, through a public service announcement, and, most importantly, by living his life to the fullest. “J.R. has helped to dispel the myths about disfigurement and the preconceived notions of those who live in our communities,“ said Amy following J.R.’s win in the nationally televised dance competition.

Addressing an audience in Milwaukee, J.R., who has served on the Society’s Board of Directors since 2010, shared his memories of the first time he attended Phoenix World Burn Congress. “I saw a lobby full of burn survivors, including children and adults,” said J.R. “It actually shocked me for a moment.”

However, he recalled that attending that meeting 5 years after his injury allowed him to feel “more secure” and made him realize that he wasn’t alone, explaining, “that’s what the Phoenix Society does.”

J.R. encouraged burn survivors to use their experience to educate others, saying, “I hope you understand that you have a voice, and that it’s important to speak, and to tell your story.”