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AZ Insider: Dancing with Stars Champ in Phoenix

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Kathy Shayna Shocket has the inside scoop on the social scene and celebrities. jr2

 How JR Martinez captured partygoers hearts at a Phoenix holiday party.

JR Martinez not only set the bar on the dance floor, winning season 13 of "Dancing with the Stars," but he also opened up new doors in Hollywood landing a role on ABC’s "All My Children." 

He's overcome unimaginable obstacles since he was severely burned in Iraq. While serving in the Army there,  his Humvee hit a land mine. Now, the motivational speaker is a role model and helps support fellow burn survivors. 

His appearance in Phoenix at the “Holiday Festival of Trees” was nothing short of inspirational. The fancy annual gala benefits the Arizona Burn Foundation and JR captured partygoers hearts. 

Also in the spotlight at this dinner dance were the 11 spectacular Christmas trees in the live auction. The trees which were donated and very creatively decorated by local desingers in a wide variety of themes fetched a total of $100,000 in the auction.  And by the way.. the holiday celebration continued the next day when local fire fighters delivered the huge trees on their fire trucksto the highest bidders. burnvaugnjr

 (J.R. Martinez with Navaz Ghaswala, Rex Maughan and Ruth Maughan)

The 12ft. tree donated by Forever Living Products sold for $21,000. As Forever Living Rex Maughan points out, the message on our Forever Living Products tree truly speaks to the spirit with which my wife Ruth and I participate and that is to live the Golden Rule - to treat others with the kindness with which we would like to be treated.  It was an honor to be part of this great event. "

Diane Caruso , chief nursing officer at HealthSouth chaired the impressive gala of about 550 guests. Her husband is the respected Dr. Dan Caruso, chief of Burn Services and chair of surgery at the Arizona Burn Center at Maricopa Medical Center.

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Dr. Dan Caruso, Diane Caruso and Jr Martinez

"Watching the many volunteers give from their heart to literally "build" this event from start to finish was awe inspiring," says Diane. "The story JR Martinez shared was uplifting and full of hope, and his interaction with our guests throughout the night was a highlight of the event," she adds. 

The Arizona Burn Foundation raises critical funds for the Arizona Children’s Burn Camp “Camp Courage”, the Forever Courage House family shelter as well as its many outreach/prevention programs such as state-wide smoke alarm walks. 

kathy-shocket

Kathy Shayna Shocket is a freelance Reporter, Photographer and TV Field Proudcer based in Phoenix. She has written and reported for prestigious publications such as TIME magazine, PEOPLE magazine, MONEY magazine, the Hollywood Reporter and the New York Times. You can reach her at  This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it