As a freshman at Luther College, Chris Norton suffered an accident on the football field that left him paralyzed from the neck down.
He was running down the field on a kickoff when he lunged to make a tackle and another player's knee hit across his neck.
"Gave me a 3 percent chance of regaining movement or feeling below my neck," said Norton.
In less than three years, the business management major who just finished up his junior year can move his arms and is gaining strength in his legs, too.
"I've been able to walk in a walker and stand unassisted for a short time," he said.
Norton spends about 30 hours a week in intensive therapy, including occupational therapy at Winneshiek Medical Center in Decorah.
"He comes in to therapy everyday with a positive attitude," said occupational therapist Jennessa Luzum. "The amazing thing is he never gets frustrated."
Norton's ultimate goal is to walk on his own again, and, he said, "Having the work ethic and the drive to want to get better to get better; not being complacent with where you're at."
Besides a positive attitude, Norton credits access to equipment with his recovery.
"I don't think people realize the difficulty involved with spinal cord injuries and just the lack of availability for people who need it most," he said.
To help with accessibility, Norton started the SCI CAN Foundation in August 2012. It stands for Spinal Cord Injury, Christopher Anderson Norton and provides equipment and grants to hospitals and rehab facilities.
"I want to do more," Norton said. "It's something I'm passionate about. It will be my life's work."
The foundation's first donation was a $28,000 RT 300 bike to Winneshiek Medical Center.
"We would never have had a piece of equipment like this without the insight of Chris and the foundation and the grant," said Jennessa Luzum.
The bike uses Functional Electrical Stimulation (FES) for arms and/or legs.
"Helps stimulate muscles you're lacking or weakened and it helps re-grow those muscles and sustain those muscles," said Norton.
Besides spinal cord injuries, the RT 300 bike is being used for people with multiple sclerosis, Parkinson's, cerebral palsy and more.
The Altoona native hopes equipment donations like this one play a major role in strengthening therapy opportunities in Iowa.
"It's not easy," Norton said. "It doesn't come fast, but if you keep working at it, good results will happen."
For more information on the SCI CAN Foundation, click here.
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 WorldNow and KWWL. All Rights Reserved.
Persons with disabilities who need assistance with issues relating to the content of this station's public inspection file should contact Administrative Assistant Sandy Youngblut at 319-291-1259. Questions or concerns relating to the accessibility of the FCC's online public file system should be directed to the FCC at 888-225-5322, at 888-835-5322 (TTY) or at email@example.com.