Former UW Wrestler Thanks Supporters with a Song

May 20, 2014

LARAMIE, Wyo. - Former University of Wyoming wrestler Michael Martinez used to think the only person he could depend upon was himself. After a harrowing accident last year, he found out how many people truly had his back and wants to share his appreciation.

Martinez, a former Wyoming wrestling standout from 2009-12, needed plenty of support following an accident last year in which he sustained severe burns over 80 percent of his body. On a chilly night in April 2013, Martinez was injured when a motorhome in which he was staying on his family ranch exploded due to a gas leak. He drove a mile to his uncle's house and was then flown to a burn unit in New Mexico.

The visitors and well-wishers streamed in nearly immediately, coming in from states like Montana, Tennessee, Oklahoma and West Virginia. Supporters established a fund to help defray his medical costs through an online account and bank donations. He spent nearly a month in the burn unit and was released to recover at home in Pagosa Springs, Colo.

Shortly after he got out of the hospital, Martinez and The High Rollers frontman Andy Janowsky co-wrote a song called "People Who Still Care" as a way to reach out to those who helped him through a difficult time - even people he didn't even know prior to the accident. The single is part of the band's new album, titled "Kick It Boy," which has received regional radio play and is among the most downloaded songs from the album. Fans can download the song for just 99 cents by searching for "People Who Still Care" on iTunes.

A three-time conference champion (2009-11) and four-time NCAA qualifier from 2009-12 for the Cowboys, Martinez concluded his Wyoming career with 116 wins, No. 9 in UW history. He was a member of three NCAA West Regional tournament title teams.

Martinez, who says he is nearly 100 percent recovered, was able to return to work in January 2014, nearly eight months after the accident. His skin remains soft and somewhat vulnerable, but overall, he's able to do the things he always did. He works for Davis Engineering in Pagosa Springs as a surveyor and coaches a local youth wrestling club several nights a week. He's engaged to his fiancé Kaitlin and the couple hopes to be married in December.

"I had an idea for the song in the hospital," Martinez said. "I knew it should show how I was feeling at the time, about how I was really grateful to all the people who came to visit. Sometimes nothing seems to go right for you but people send their regards and thoughts and prayers. That really kept me rolling in the hospital. There are a lot of people out there who really care."

The High Rollers are a country-rock band based out of Durango, Colo. Janowsky has known Martinez for several years as his brother Dan coached Martinez at Pagosa Springs High School. During the 2002 season the duo met up and collaborated on a poem Martinez had written, titled "Face the Race." Janowsky also finds inspiration in Martinez, recounting a bad mountain biking accident that left him in great pain. His reason for getting up and back on the bike was Martinez.

"After his accident, he came to me and asked me to help him write the song `People Who Still Care,'" Janowsky said. "We put our heads together and worked the song up. I usually take his ideas, which are often quite good, and attempt to craft the lyrics and create a melody. The program director at KISS Country out of Farmington, N.M., is using this song to close his show every week due to the positive and uplifting nature of the song and the story. He is an amazing kid and is an inspiration for me along with many others."

By Michael Martinez and Andy Janowsky | Reprinted with permission from The High Rollers

I grew up in a small hick town that only had one light
I got educated I graduated and moved on with my life
Found myself on the city streets concrete and dirty air
Way too loud lost in a crowd and no one seemed to care
One day I hooked up that RV and made my way back home
Parked it out on the old ranch and lived life all alone
No cell phones no visitors nobody gave a hoot
Just my horse my dog my hat and worn out pair of boots
One long cold night I fired up the stove to get me through
The whole place just went up in flames but when I first came to
There was Lightner up from Oklahoma the Thrashers from down south
People that I'd never met before were there to help me out
The Burnsides came from Tennessee from Montana there was Cole
John Suritas from West Virginia there was Suder and King Mo
And from my bed it took my breath away tears filled my eyes
All their time and tears and smiles had made me realize
The goodness in my fellow man through all their thoughts and prayers
I was dead wrong, there are people who still care
I'm getting stronger every day thankful to be alive
I'll never be the same but through it all I will survive
If you're feeling all alone and strugglin' day to day
You think nobody has your back that's what I used to say
Until I saw Melissa came down from Colorado
Carly came from Michigan and my old high school coach
My mom and dad stood next to me the preacher from my town
Katlin with those big blue eyes my friends were all around
And from my bed it took my breath away tears filled my eyes
All their time their tears and smiles had made me realize
The goodness in my fellow man through all their thoughts and prayers
I was dead wrong, there are people who still care