Norton's incredible story grabbing national headlines - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Norton's incredible story grabbing national headlines

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A Luther College student that fought back from a catastrophic spinal injury is using his story to inspire others.

Chris Norton, 23, was paralyzed from the neck down playing football his freshman year. Doctors gave him a 3% chance of ever walking again.

Norton did not accept those odds. Sunday, after years of hard work and dedication in physical therapy, he accepted his diploma -- standing on his own two feet. As he rose from his wheelchair, thousands of people applauded. Slowly, under his own power, he walked across the stage, raising his fist in triumph.

"I didn't know how I was going to walk across the stage, but I knew it was going to happen," Norton told KWWL earlier this week, from his parents' home in Altoona.

Since then, he's received nationwide attention. Norton's story has been featured on all the major networks, including NBC's Nightly News broadcast on Wednesday.

"It was definitely a dream come true," said Emily Summers. "The whole entire weekend was absolutely incredible."

Summers and Norton met and began dating after his injury. Just the day before his incredible walk, he proposed. Now -- the couple looks forward to another walk -- down the aisle.

"We've gone through so many different obstacles and challenges, but the fact that can do it together, we can get through anything in life," Norton said.

Reached by phone late Wednesday, Norton said life has been a whirlwind since graduation. He was in an airport, hoping to grab a last minute flight to appear on ABC's 'Good Morning America.'

"Emily Summers and I will be in NYC to be apart of the show!" Norton wrote on Facebook. "We can't wait and feel incredibly blessed! We hope our story inspires others."

Since Norton was injured during an NCAA event, much his medical care was covered by the organization's high-risk insurance. But watching that money pile up, he realized many in his position don't have that assistance. Because of that, during his recovery, Norton worked not only for himself, but others -- establishing the SCI CAN Foundation, which works to help others suffering from injuries like Norton's. To date, they raised thousands of dollars, and donated several therapy machines to Midwest hospitals. Learn more about SCI CAN here.

Norton is also publishing a book, about how his faith helped him on the long road to recovery. "The Power of Faith When Tragedy Strikes" comes out later this year.

KWWL first brought you this story on Monday. See the original piece here.

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