Taylor, 37, took home the Spirit Award for his contributions to the South Florida community.
There were plenty of flashing lights and famous faces on hand to kick off the YMCA of Broward County’s eighth annual Martin Luther King Jr. Inspirational Breakfast.
This year’s headliners included actor, Iraq war veteran, and current “Dancing With the Stars” champion J.R. Martinez, and newly retired Dolphins linebacker Jason Taylor.
Taylor took home the Spirit Award for his contributions to the South Florida community. Martinez served as this year’s keynote speaker.
In March 2003, while serving in Karbala, Iraq, Martinez was injured after a Humvee he was riding in struck a landmine. Forty percent of his body was covered in severe burns, and it took him nearly three years and 33 surgeries to recover.
Growing up, Martinez said he had been moved by Dr. King’s dream and his legacy to pursue his passions, despite his obstacles. Now, Martinez hopes to encourage young people to follow their dreams as well.
“For me, being 28 years old, I love speaking about kids and doing anything I can to help empower kids and give the kids the tools they need to learn for them to be successful,” Martinez said.
Taylor said just being associated with King’s example is an honor for him.
“I think he's probably one of the greatest, if not the greatest, men of the 20th century,” said Taylor, 37. “So, any time your name is attached to anything that he had anything to do with, it's very rewarding, very humbling.”
The annual breakfast also raises funds for Broward's YMCAs. Last year, officials said the Y was able to invest more than a million dollars in the Broward community for programs, including ones designed to assist low-income families and children.