A former Iowa college football player who was told he would probably never walk again after an injury left him paralyzed five years ago stood up and walked across the stage at graduation.
“It was an amazing moment to share with family and friends. It was incredible,” Chris Norton told CNN affiliate KCCI of the special day.
After getting injured in a football game his freshman year at college, doctors all but told Norton it would be a miracle if he ever walked again, the television station reported.
At his first therapy session following the devastating injury, Norton could only nod his head “yes and no,” his father, Terry Norton, told KCCI.
But the Luther College student refused to accept failure, working hard and holding on to hope — however slim it was — that he would someday be able to use his legs again.
“With hard work and your faith, your family and friends, anything really is possible,” Norton told the station. “You just have to keep believing in yourself.”
On Sunday, Norton accomplished his goal of walking at graduation, much to the delight of the crowd which stood up and cheered for the former football player.
“The crowd just erupted, and they went on for the entire time he was up there. It was just emotional. Everybody was on their feet,” Terry Norton said, according to the station.
Chris Norton was aided by his fiancee, Emily Summers, who helped him up from his wheelchair and then held onto him as he slowly walked to receive his graduation, video showed.
The ceremony capped a milestone weekend for Norton, who proposed to Summers the day before, the station reported.
“I said, ‘Oh, my gosh!’ So surprised,” Summers recalled. “I did not see that coming at all. It was awesome. It was definitely the best weekend I’ve ever had.”
Chris and Terry Norton have written a book about the experience. “The Power of Faith When Tragedy Strikes” is due out this summer or early fall.