Chris Norton was told he only had a 3 percent chance of regaining movement below his neck, but after investing everything he had in a nearly-impossible goal, he overcame all odds this week by walking across the stage during his college graduation.
The 23-year-old Iowan almost lost his life to an injury that occurred during a football game at Luther that left a segment of his spine fractured and his body limp.”The only thing I could do after surgery was nod my head, and I could hardly move my head,” said Norton.
After hearing his prognosis, Norton remained hopeful that he would train his body to function again. “My graduation walk was what I considered my game day or Olympic event,” Norton told NBC News. “My full focus was to take the best steps I could possibly take and not worry about the audience or anything else.”
With the help of his now-fiancé Emily Summers, his sister and endless hours of rehabilitation and medical attention, Norton worked for almost five years in order to accomplish those few steps across the stage. He even finished his schooling a semester before the rest of his class so he could spend up to six hours each day focusing on preparation for the big moment.
But making his triumphant stride across the stage isn’t even the best thing that happened to Norton this week. He also proposed to girlfriend Emily the night before the big day. Which was he more nervous about? “Probably the proposal.”
— Iowa Hospital Assoc (@iowahospital) May 26, 2015
Norton is currently on a path towards helping others deal with similar challenges to the ones he’s faced. Since 2012 he’s been acting as a motivational speaker, and he plans on sharing his story in full with the forthcoming book titled “The Power of Faith When Tragedy Strikes.” His SCI CAN foundation, which is aimed at helping to supply others suffering from spinal cord injuries with the expensive equipment that helped Norton overcome his odds, also donated $60,000 in grant money to Des Moines University.
Congratulations go out to Mr. Norton for his monumental accomplishment as well as his fresh engagement.
“So many people, including myself, fear failure, it’s human. But if you do everything in your power to accomplish your dreams, at the end of the day, you can be proud and happy with how far you’ve come,”
This video made me happy-cry! “So many people, including myself, fear failure, it’s human. But if you do everything in your power to accomplish your dreams, at the end of the day, you can be proud and happy with how far you’ve come.”