Fresno Co. Veteran Becomes Inaugural Recipient of National Award

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- A local disabled veteran was once told he was unemployable. So the Squaw Valley man and his wife created their own jobs -- turning his woodworking hobby into a successful engraving company. Now their efforts are receiving national attention.

An impressive Superman collection at Al Kroell's Squaw Valley home all started with a nickname: "Man of Steel." Because that's what Kroell is, after 53 surgeries.

"Due to a very bad accident when I was in the military I lost the use of both of my hands," said Kroell.

Kroell doesn't like to talk about the accident. He still suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder. He found his favorite hobby of woodworking therapeutic, but even that became painfully difficult.

That is, until he discovered a computerized laser engraving machine. It opened up a whole new world of business possibilities for him and his wife, Christy. Christyal Plaques & Engraving was born. Kroell showed us examples of intricate designs, all on different surfaces.

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