'Dancing' champ Martinez reigns over 123rd Rose Parade
Each year, the parade also features the Rose Queen and her court, along with special guests and a grand marshal, who for 2012 is the most recent
The 28-year-old -- also featured as one of the Men of the Year in
Last fall, Martinez joined the cast of ABC's "Dancing With the Stars" with professional partner
"It's been amazing," says Martinez, calling in just after doing an interview with
As to what he thinks his victory meant for others like him who have suffered disfiguring injuries, Martinez says, "I think, for people who have some sort of disfigurement, whether minor or major, it's shown them you are still beautiful, you still can be beautiful. Part of that is accepting yourself.
"Once you get over that obstacle, and you're able to say, 'This is me; I'm not going to worry too much about trying to be the old me or go back to the old me; I'm just going to accept me for me now and find ways to make it worth it with what I've been given.'
"The fact that I'm able to show people that I'm comfortable in my own skin, I'm happy in my own skin, I'm confident in who I am, I'm still attractive -- I think it gives people out there a source of inspiration. Quite honestly, the truth is, it's not just people that have scars on the outside; it's people that have scars on the inside that we, every day, don't see.
"Unfortunately, for them, they feel that they're not beautiful." Martinez heard he was chosen as the Tournament of Roses Parade grand marshal through emails from his publicist, Cynthia Snyder, and a "Dancing" producer.
"Initially," he says, "being a football fan, my first reaction was, 'Oh, my God, this is so cool, I get to go to the
"Talking to Cynthia, I would say, 'Is it really something big?' And Cynthia would say, 'Absolutely, this thing is huge.' The fact that they chose me is a tremendous honor, but I fit. The theme of this is 'Just Imagine .'
"And 8 1/2 years ago, all I could do is just imagine. Then you can go back even 25 years ago, all I could do is just imagine. Twenty years ago, 10 years ago, eight years ago, even four months ago, before I joined 'Dancing With the Stars,' all I could do is just imagine.
"But if you imagine great things, and you visualize it, and you see it in your head, and you work at it, just imagine the possibilities."
But Martinez emphasizes that thinking isn't enough.
"You have to get up," he says. "You have to get out of your chair. You have to find a way to make it happen and have the greatest attitude when you're doing it, believe and just work at it. If you do those things, the imagination is a powerful thing, but then it becomes a reality.
"Set goals -- minor or major -- don't be discouraged just because it doesn't happen traditionally. Stick to what you want; stick to what you believe, work at it, go after it and achieve it."