SANTA MONICA ( — Former “Dancing with the Stars” champion J.R. Martinez may be best known for his ballroom shoes, but his running shoes are getting the most wear these days.

The decorated war veteran, motivational speaker, and actor is training to run the New York City Marathon on Nov. 4.

“I’m committed to this and I’m dedicated to this. I just gotta lace up the shoes, put on the gear, and go for a run,” Martinez said.

In 2003, Martinez suffered severe burns on 34 percent of his body while deployed in Iraq. He said doctors told him he wouldn’t be able to run again.

“I was being taught how to take steps. Just walk again. Now I’m learning how to actually run 26 miles,” he said.

Martinez said he will be the last person to start the marathon—but for a good reason.

For every person he passes, Timex will donate $1 to the New York Road Runners Youth Program, an organization that helps 100,000 children in schools and community centers across the country.

“Every person I see, I’m going to look at them like a dollar sign,” Martinez said. “That’s a possible dollar that will go to charity.”

In the meantime, he said he’ll continue to run towards life’s challenges.

“If you wanna do (something), go out there and work hard…and you’ll be able to do it,” said Martinez.


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