Gerald "JJ" Bramer is a fighter.
On Nov. 16, 2007, Bramer, a passenger in a small pickup truck driven by Justin Snow, suffered life-threatening injuries in a two-vehicle T-bone collision near the intersection of County Road 950 North and Kennedy Crossing Road.
Snow was pronounced dead at the scene, while the driver of the second vehicle, Justin White, sustained minor injuries.
Bramer was taken by air-ambulance to Indianapolis Methodist Hospital.
"JJ had four ribs fractured on the right side, a pelvic fracture on the left side and a fracture to his left leg, but the worst injury was to his brain," Tina Bullock told The Brazil Times. "JJ suffered severe trauma to the left side of his brain, which affects the right side of his right body. The swelling was so bad he was put on a ventilator. The doctors didn't know the level of rehab it would take for him to recover from the mental trauma."
Attending outpatient physical, occupational and speech therapy three times a week in Terre Haute, Bramer, who has been home for a little more than two weeks, is walking with the aid of a cane.
"The doctors are amazed at his recovery," Tina said. "They say he's healing really well. I just can't say thank you enough to everyone that helped save JJ's life. He's my hero, my survivor."
Although he's experienced some memory problems from the trauma, Bramer is happy to be back in class at Northview High School and understands he will need a little extra help from his friends and staff at the school.
Bramer said he was excited to return, but tired easily at first. He was grateful for a "circle of friends" who helped him get to class and around the school. He was also grateful about all the prayers and support he has received from the community.
"Thanks," Bramer said. "I'm all right."
"That support is what kept us going through the tough times," Tina said, adding that her son is getting stronger with each day. "Some familiar things are hard for him to do, while things you wouldn't think he can do, he does."
Tina explained that JJ has to relearn some basic things, like reading, while using a computer still comes naturally.
"JJ likes to e-mail his friends, go on MySpace, play computer games and be on his game systems," Tina said. "He did algebra at school for the first time this week. It's a miracle how much he's improving everyday."
Amid the tragedy of the accident and loss of a family friend (Snow), Tina said she was happy to see the intersection at Kennedy Crossing Road cleared of brush.
"This was a tragic accident. The boys were just in the wrong place at the wrong time. You have to hope that good comes from something tragic like this," Tina said about the work done in the area. "Hopefully another child will not get hurt, and another family won't have to answer a knock on their door by police."
Love, faith and strength have become rallying points for Bramer, Tina and her husband, Charlie Bullock, during some tragic family events in 2007.
The year started out badly when Tina was diagnosed with cancer.
"I was diagnosed with Stage 3 breast cancer, but I was going to fight it," Tina said about the two surgeries, one resulting in a mastectomy. "I am determined I'm not leaving my family."
While Tina underwent chemotherapy treatment, the family then struggled through the loss of a dear family member.
"The worst thing to happen the entire year was JJ's accident," she said, adding that it was especially difficult for her husband at times because he not only had to worry about JJ, but her as well. "But now we are home together, a family again."
Tina admits to being very protective of JJ, and wants to urge parents to pay attention to the safety of their children.
"Don't be afraid to ask them about where they are going, if they are wearing their seatbelts," Tina said. "And please, make sure they have some form of identification or contact information on them."
In a hurry to spend time with friends the night of the accident, JJ left his identification at home.
"The quick response by emergency response personnel saved JJ's life, but they didn't know who he was. He didn't have identification on him. Police officers had to ask the Snow family who JJ was, and then come here to tell us what happened," Tina said, then urged parents to make sure their child has some form of identification on them when they leave home. "You just never know what will happen. JJ hugged and kissed me on the forehead that night when he left. I would have never imagined anything like this happening. No one does. That's why, as a parent, you can't go a day without telling your kids you love them."