Auctioneer overcomes paralysis to become national champ

Posted at 11:06 PM, Sep 02, 2016
and last updated 2016-09-02 23:06:46-04

INDIANAPOLIS -- Overcoming incredible odds, a local auctioneer is back on top of his craft.

T.J. Freije is a third-generation auctioneer. He spent years building his own chant – the bid call he uses to sell cars and items in Indiana and on shows on Discovery Channel and Velocity.

In July, Freije won the International Auctioneer's Championship, beating out 93 other competitors.

Freije is the first man from Indiana to ever win the award. But, even more impressive is the battle he fought leading up to the competition.

"Last year I had a viral attack on a facial nerve and we thought it was a stroke at first," Freije said. "But it ended up being Bell's palsy."

The condition paralyzed and weakened the very muscles Freije uses in his career as an auctioneer.

"I couldn't drink out of a straw, I couldn't eat really well, I couldn't close my eye," he said.

While it looked for a time that the damage could be permanent, Freije kept on fighting, and eventually regained normal function of his facial muscles.

"It kind of brought a tear to my eye," he said. "I ran in like a little kid on Christmas morning and said, honey, my face is moving!"