Related: Woman fighting sex slavery named CNN Hero of the Year
Special to CNN
Editor's note: Jose Rene Martinez was severely burned while serving in Iraq in 2003. He is a motivational speaker and plays combat veteran Brot Monroe in ABC's "All My Children." He is also a spokesman for CNN Hero Dan Wallrath's organization, Operation Finally Home. "CNN Heroes: An All-Star Tribute" replays on CNN International on Christmas Eve at 1000, 1800 and 2300 GMT and on CNN/US on Christmas Day at 6 p.m. ET.
(CNN) - This world is a busy place with billions of people and billions of things to achieve and experience. It's easy to live a lifetime without knowing the feeling of helping others.
But can you really blame people for making a way for themselves and not others? That's the message you get from birth: "Go after your dreams and don't let anything or anyone keep you from it."
I hear people ask: "What's in it for me?" or "Why should I help you, or them?" Could it be that they were never taught the importance of helping others or know how much they could gain from it themselves?
For me it wasn't someone, but more something, that made me realize the importance of helping others. It was simply visiting a place that some have never visited before - and fighting for my life.
Editor's Note: "CNN Heroes: An All-Star Tribute" replays on CNN International on Christmas Eve, December 24, at 1000, 1800, 2300 GMT and on CNN/U.S. on Christmas Day, December 25, at 6 p.m. ET/3 p.m. PT, 10 p.m. ET/7 p.m. PT, and 1 a.m. ET/10 p.m. PT.
Related: 'We have to fight against this crime and protect the children from this.'
Related: 'All kinds of emotions raced through me, knowing that now more help was coming for our true heroes.'
Related: 'This distinction does not belong to me. The many people I work with… are the real heroes.'
Related: 'This is the most incredible opportunity we have ever had to raise awareness of this vital work'
Related: 'I really feel encouraged and I will wake up with more energy to do more.'
Related: 'I am thrilled, excited, grateful and humbled.'
Related: 'I have never been chosen by anyone for anything.'
Related: 'I feel like a gift has been given and I can really use it to help others who are struggling.'
Anderson Cooper goes beyond the headlines to tell stories from many points of view, so you can make up your own mind about the news. Tune in weeknights at 8 and 10 ET on CNN.
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