Robert Abrahams Jr., or JR to his friends, admits that his job is his addiction. "It's like somebody with a gambling condition. Towing is my addiction," said JR.
JR is a towman with local company Hanser's Automotive and Wrecker. On a snowy December day in 2003, JR, along with many of his co-workers, were called out to tow stranded cars on the Interstate.
"I look to my right, and here comes a semi, right down the hill, sideways. It was a wrecker in front of me, my wrecker. I had nowhere to go," said JR.
JR's boss, Ralph Hanser, told JR to run. JR tried, but it was not enough. "I got four steps in, when he hit my wrecker, I jumped up, and it crushed me from my ribs down," said JR.
"He was pinned between our wrecker, the truck, and another wrecker," said Ralph Hanser, who went on to say that JR could have easily died in the accident.
It was obvious that JR needed urgent medical help. The ambulance, however, couldn't travel in the deep snow. JR was, at that point, stranded.
"I couldn't feel my legs. It was nasty," JR recounted.
Ralph eventually took his own damaged vehicle and drove JR to the hospital. The surgeries JR needed were as extensive as his injuries.
"They put my foot back together, and then I had to have my right leg reconstructed. I got two fractures at my L-5 with a herniated disc," JR recounted.
After a long period of physical therapy, JR was eventually able to go back to work, and that day in December 2003 was left in distant memory until January 2012, when the American Towman Exposition honored JR with its Silver Star Award. JR is the inaugural recipient of the award.
"I think he deserves that award. I mean, he's a fighter. You know, he could've just as easily taken disability of some kind, I would think, and stayed at home, but he didn't," said Ralph.
"Most things like this in the towing industry are forgotten, you know. A lot of people don't think that we are very important," said JR, who went on to say that he is now using his struggles since 2003 to inspire others, while continuing to work his dream job.
"My dad told me, you know, don't quit because you're scared, quit because you don't want to do it anymore."