Pictured left to right: Lavonne Brown, Mohawk territory mgr.; Steve Issis, owner, Issis and Sons (Floorscapes National Retailer of the Year); J.R. Martinez; Cynthia Issis, Issis and Sons (Floorscapes National Retailer of the Year); and Dale Byers, Mohawk district mgr.

Mohawk’s sold out aligned retailer convention last week ended with a surprise appearance from a special guest at the Solutions gala. War hero and recently crowned Dancing with the Stars champion J.R. Martinez unveiled an exclusive partnership between Mohawk and Operation Finally Home, a non-profit organization providing custom-made, mortgage-free homes for America’s war wounded. Mohawk will donate flooring for all 16 of the houses Operation Finally Home will build in 2012.

“Helping Mohawk aligned and independent retailers invest in the American dream is one of our big initiatives for 2012, and this is a meaningful and important way we can do that,” said David Duncan, svp marketing at Mohawk. “It is an absolute privilege to partner with Operation Finally Home to help wounded heroes transition from the battlefront to the home front. Having J.R. at convention to kick-off the partnership and share his personal story is just the icing on the cake.”

Martinez, a United States Army veteran who serves as the official spokesperson for Operation Finally Home, told aligned retailers that Mohawk’s donation will change the lives of some of America’s most deserving wounded service members, disabled veterans and widows of fallen soldiers. He shared his own personal journey from tragedy to triumph. In 2003, at the young age of 19, Martinez hit a land mine while driving a Humvee in Iraq. He suffered burns to 40 percent of his body, endured more than 30 surgeries, and required three years of extensive rehabilitation. Martinez has since achieved amazing success as an actor and motivational speaker. Most recently, Martinez inspired millions with his ballroom dancing abilities on ABC’s popular television series Dancing with the Stars. Just two weeks ago, he and professional partner Karina Smirnoff claimed the coveted mirror ball trophy prize and were named season 13 champions.

“The physical and emotional struggles you experience after an attack in combat seem insurmountable at first, and you question if you’ll ever be able to hope for anything again,” said Martinez. “People helping other people in need-that’s what restores hope and makes this country great. My life would not be what it is today if it weren’t for programs like Operation Finally Home that helped me when I needed it most. I am absolutely delighted that Mohawk shares this passion and believes in helping soldiers in need, too.”

Operation Finally Home was born out of the Bay Area Builders Association Support Our Troops effort in 2005. The organization partners with corporate sponsors, builder associations, builders, developers, individual contributors and volunteers to help severely wounded war heroes and their families succeed in a challenging new world. All homes built by Operation Finally Home are custom-designed to accommodate the special needs and disabilities of the soldier recipients. Best of all, the homes are given to each family mortgage-free.

“This financial freedom gives our veterans and their families the opportunity to start a new life and live out their dreams,” said Daniel Vargas, executive director of Operation Finally Home. “Our nation’s service members make tremendous sacrifices every day to ensure our safety and freedoms. In return these brave men and women and their families deserve the best care and support we have to offer.”