Paralyzed Football Player in Contest for New Car

By Sarah McCarthy, Reporter

Decorah, IA -- Three years ago, Chris Norton was injured in a third quarter kickoff play during a football game.

He was a freshman player for Luther College and went in for a tackle. But when the pileup cleared, Norton didn't move.

"I remember just closing my eyes and not wanting to believe that what was going on was real," Norton said.

He was airlifted to Mayo Clinic, where doctors determined he had broken two vertebrae. Norton was paralyzed from the neck down and was told he had just a three percent chance of walking again.

But now, three years after his injury, Norton goes to physical therapy for four hours a day and is retraining his muscles.

"I've been able to work on a crutch," Norton said. "In a walker sometimes, it's a lot of standing balance."

And while all of those hours in therapy have helped Norton regain some independence, he's ready for another big step. He wants to drive.

"I'm very capable of driving," Norton said. "It's just a matter of getting the funds, and getting the vehicle."

And that vehicle isn't cheap.

"They estimated over $150,000 worth of equipment plus the vehicle," he said.

And since Norton doesn't have that cash on hand, his girlfriend Emily Summers found a way to help.

"I know how much it would mean to him to be able to drive again." Summers said.

So as a surprise, she created a video detailing Chris' story and entered him in an online Mobility Awareness contest.

The four nominees with the most votes will win an adaptive car for free.

A car like that would let Chris continue to give motivational talks across the state and run his spinal cord injury foundation, SciCan.

"By the time I graduate, I will definitely need a car to continue the work I've been doing," Norton said.

So he's asking for help, one vote at a time. The link to Norton's page can be found here.
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