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J.R. Martinez, Dancing with Stars champ, visits Skillman Pets

Nov. 26, 2011 By Christian Murray

The winner of this year’s “Dancing with the Stars” competition paid a visit to Sunnyside on Saturday morning, stopping in at Skillman Pets.

J.R. Martinez, an Iraq war veteran who won the top dancing prize with Karina Smirnoff on Tuesday, was in the neighborhood promoting small businesses on behalf of American Express—in what’s being touted as “small business Saturday”. Martinez came to the Sunnyside since his girlfriend, Diana Jones, is from Sunnyside and her family still live here.

Jones grew up on 38th Street and 48th Ave. and went to St. Raphael School, Christ the King Regional High School and then graduated from St. John’s University in 2004. The couple have known one another for 3 years, but have been an item for a little over a year. They both live in Los Angeles.

Martinez bought toys from Skillman Pets for his black Labrador, Romeo. Meanwhile, outside Skillman Pets, Jones and her mother, Emily Jones, were chatting with Florentina Rios (from Florents Hair Solutions) — their long time hair dresser.

Martinez, who suffered burns to more than 40 percent of body after his Humvee hit a land-mine in Iraq, spent 34 months in recovery and underwent 33 different surgeries, including skin grafts and cosmetic surgery. He has been a motivational speaker since.

Martinez met Jones after being cast as combat veteran Brot Monroe on ABC’s  daytime drama All My Children. Jones worked on the show as a production associate.

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Skillman Pets

Thanks, Christian for covering the story. J.R. and his family are very friendly and approachable. It was really nice to have him pay a visit our neighborhood.

Sandy bigitschke

Oh I would have loved to know he was going to be there……I’m his number one Groupie…….His Dancing….His Service to the U.S……Just a great person and well grounded……Sigh……


God bless this man and his special heroism. Please pray for our men and women in uniform and for those who have returned.


Just want to say what a down to earth and classy man JR is. Just wish everyone could follow his example. Miss you JR and All My Children.


Such a nice down to earth person..A real hero who made a success of his life ..Happy he won on Dancing With The Stars…Who would think after winning DWTS he’d come to Sunnyside!!! He was also so gracious with an interview and photos!!! They make a nice couple. Good interview Chris!!!!


Love love JR and miss him on All My Children ……..

…Congrats on his big win on Dancing with the Stars .. He was sooooooo great
and such a good example of overcoming misfortune and living a positive life.

…All good things for you JR …..


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