Luther College Chips

Luther alum Chris Norton (’15) returns to campus to spread inspiration with his talk, “The Power to Stand.”

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Chris Norton ('15) stands up on stage with help from Alex Peterson.

Chris Norton ('15) stands up on stage with help from Alex Peterson.

Annika Vande Krol ('19) | Photo Bureau

Annika Vande Krol ('19) | Photo Bureau

Chris Norton ('15) stands up on stage with help from Alex Peterson.

Ana López, Staff Writer

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Luther alum and co-author of a memoir Chris Norton (’15) delivered a motivational talk in the Center for Faith and Life (CFL) on Feb. 28. Approximately 200 students, faculty, staff and community members attended the talk. The talk was followed by a question and answer and book-signing sessions.

Norton suffered a severe spinal cord injury while playing football during his first year at Luther. Doctors gave him a three percent chance of recovering movement below his neck. However, Norton focused on his physical therapy every day and was able to walk across the graduation stage with help from his fiancée to receive his diploma. A video of Norton’s graduation walk quickly became viral.

During his talk, Norton explained that he found purpose in living his life after the football game in which he suffered his injury. According to Norton, part of that purpose is to travel the country delivering motivational talks as well as founding an organization for others who have similar injuries.

Throughout his recovery process, Norton co-authored a book with his father titled “The Power of Faith When Tragedy Strikes: A Father-Son Memoir.” After the speech, Norton signed copies of the book and met attendees.

During his lecture, Norton discussed the three core principles that helped him get through his recovery: attitude, effort, and purpose. Norton explained that changing his attitude was necessary to achieve his goal of regaining movement. Effort was necessary to continue through his training and he explained that he had found a purpose in inspiring and motivating others.

In an interview with Chips, Norton said that although this was not his first time visiting Luther to speak, this was his first time delivering the talk in such a large venue. Norton also said that is was nice to see people he knew.

“I love coming back,” Norton said. “I am familiar with the area, I am also familiar with a lot of faces. It was great seeing Brian Solberg and other people who helped me on the field when I was injured. They played a huge role in my recovery. There are so many great people here at Luther College.”

Norton also added that among the familiar faces there were some of his former teammates.

“I was around with the [current] senior class,” Norton said. “I know some of those football players from when I was around on campus for a little bit in 2015. I do recognize some of those people, so it was great to see them.”

Annika Vande Krol (’19) | Photo Bureau
Christ Norton (’19) signs copies of his book, “The Power of Faith When Tragedy Strikes: A Father-Son Memoir.”

Attendee Paige Harris (‘19) said the talk motivated her.

“[Norton’s] story has inspired so many people that he said he would never change what happened to him,” Harris said. “That was something that really resonated with me because his perseverance showed that anyone can overcome life’s struggles and make something good out of them.”

Christian Wright (‘18) said the talk influenced him as an athlete.

“I really liked the inspirational message,” Wright said. “It also translates easily to any sport. Doing your best and giving 100 percent no matter where you are is important. That is what will make you a better teammate and make the person next to you better.”

At the end of his talk, Norton took time to recognize the support he continues to receive from the Luther community.

“Everyone seems to be supportive either through Facebook, Twitter, or online,” Norton said. “Just that community of Luther individuals all around who rallied around me and [support] me. That’s the greatest thing about being at Luther, it’s such a community with a family-like environment. We all have each other’s backs and we support one another.”

Norton said he hopes to continue to give similar talks.

“It is my passion to share my story and help people realize that they can overcome their challenges and change what they are dealing with,” Norton said. “I am still scheduling more and more talks. I want to speak in as many opportunities I can get. ”

Norton is now headed to Birmingham, AL, for a talk with student-athletes.

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