Chris Norton | The Seven Longest Yards: Our Love Story of Pushing the Limits while Leaning on Each Other

Show Notes

The foreword of Chris Norton’s book is written by Tim Tebow, and in the book Chris shares how he has been able to remain positive despite suffering a serious spinal cord injury while playing the game he loves (football).


Book: The Seven Longest Yards

  1. Yes, yes, yes and YES! Thrivetime Nation, I am excited to introduce you to today’s guest, Chris Norton. Chris, welcome onto the Thrivetime Show. How are you sir!?
  2. Chris, my understanding is that you suffered a severe spinal cord injury playing college football and were actually given just a 3% chance to ever move below the neck…My friend what happened…do you remember the injury?
    1. I played free safety. I didn’t mind hitting people.
    2. I dove for the ball and instead of hitting the ball, I hit his legs with my head.
    3. All of a sudden, I couldn’t move anything.
    4. It looked like nothing had happened but I couldn’t move. I couldn’t get off the field.
    5. I thought it was just a pinched nerve. I thought it was just a “Stinger”.
    6. I was, at the time, terrified. I was being transported by a stretcher across the field. I tried to give the crowd a thumbs up but nothing was moving.
    7. My wife and I met three years after my injury.
  3. Chris Norton, when did you determine that you wanted to walk across the stage for your college graduation?
    1. That video went viral with 300,000,000 views.
    2. It was mind-blowing. 
    3. I was training for myself and maybe to inspire a few people. I ended up inspiring a ton of people. It gave me a purpose.
    4. I knew exactly what I was going to do for the rest of my life.
    5. We received letters and messages from people going through the same thing and we were able to inspire many people.
  4. How many kids do you have?
    1. We have 5 adopted daughters and have fostered 17 kids in the past.
    2. We also have a female dog
  5. What, from your past, gave you the motivation to keep going?
    1. My foundation of faith. It gave me hope.
    2. Being a student athlete having failed over and over again.
    3. Always taking responsibility over my life.
      1. I could point fingers but I owned up to the fact that this is my life and I have to do something about it.
  6. Chris Norton, you and your family Emily have a new book coming out on July 7th called, The Seven Longest Yards: Our Love Story of Pushing the Limits while Leaning on Each Other…what first inspired you to write this book and what is it all about?
    1. The book is about walking my bride seven yards down the aisle and the seven years.
  7. The foreword of your book is actually written by8 Tim Tebow…how did you meet Tim?
    1. I knew Tim from his days at Florida.
    2. I’m in the hospital and I was watching the NFL draft. I was moved at his work ethic.
    3. My dad reached out to everyone and eventually got ahold of Tim who called me from his personal cell phone number.
    4. We talked for twenty minutes and told me to call or text him if I needed anything.
  8. How would you describe Tim Tebow’s personality and overall heart?
    1. He is very personable and wanted to really get to know me.
    2. He genuinely cares about you and what you have going on.
    3. He is the real deal.
  9. If the listeners go out there and purchase a copy of your book, what kind of inspirational words of wisdom and stories can they expect to find in the book?
    1. What is really encouraging is that, if you just keep going even if you don’t know where you are going, God can turn your life into something great.
    2. What I am really proud about is how my wife opens up about her anxiety and depression. There are so many people who go through mental illness and she really is a great example.
  10. Chris Norton, tell us about your documentary?
    1. You might have to hydrate yourself.
    2. It is a tear jerker.
    3. Hearing it from the perspective of my parents is great.
  11. Chris, apparently you have also found time to start a wheelchair camp…what is this all about?
    1. When I had my injury, I thought my life was over. How was I supposed to be outside?
    2. It wasn’t until 2014 when I was invited to a wheelchair accessible sports camp that opened my eyes to the things that I could do.
    3. No matter what physical challenges you have, you can still have fun and enjoy life.
    4. I always wanted to do my camp and this week is our first week here.
    5. We have 25 campers and their families and we pay for everything.
  12. Chris Norton, if the listeners out there what to hire you to speak to their corporation or their organization…what is the best way for them to reach out to get additional information?
    1. Go to
  13. What are your thoughts on football at this point?
    1. I still love it and have no ill feelings towards it.
    2. What happened to me was such a low possibility.
    3. My biggest concern is the concussion aspect of football.
    4. I would start my kids in middle school.
    5. It is a tough game but it is a great game that taught me so many valuable lessons.
  14. Why should we buy the book?
    1. This book will be a blueprint of how you can take life’s lowest moments and turn them into your greatest blessings.
    2. It is going to push you to keep moving forward.
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Audio Transcription

Chris Norton Thrivetime Show Slides

Thrive nation. On today’s show, we’re interviewing Chris Norton. Chris is the author of the new book, the seven walcust yards, our love story of pushing the limits while learning on each other. The Foreword of the book is written by the legendary Tim Tebow, but Paul Hood. Why should everybody listen to today’s show? Everybody should listen to those show because it’s a story of overcoming and there’s so much stuff that’s going on in people’s lives and it’s so easy to to just give up. This is a great story to get you out of that funk. A lot of people after having a spinal injury and becoming paralyzed would have given up, but that’s not what today’s guest did. Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you the Chris Norton Story.

Chris, welcome to the thrive time show. How are you sir?


I am doing great. I am here in the Midwest and it’s so much cooler here than it is in south Florida.

Can you, can you, I’d love for you to share with the listeners about your book, the, the, the seven longest yard. Well, what’s that book all about and what inspired you to write that day?

Yeah, so the seven longest yards is about my journey going from a spinal cord injury, playing college football, a 3% chance to then seven years later walking my bride, seven yards down the aisle of our wedding. And that happened back in April. But just that journey in between of going from just nothing below the neck, just live feeling over to Ben, you know, living this dream wedding with my dream girl and walking side by side with her help. And so the seven yards marks to seven yards that we walked in the seven years.

Wow. What position did you play when you played football?


I played free safety. I love to hit people. I wasn’t afraid of anyone, although I was undersized and so I was back in the, in the middle of the field for this back and I, I love that position and played the run game the past game. Uh, you kind of mix it up back there.

Where did you uh, play football at?

I played at Luther College as a small town and a small college in northeast Iowa. Yeah. And it was on the kickoff actually, so I was running down the side of the field as fast as I can go. And you know, I saw the opening coming and the ball carrier running through. I just made a dive and play at his legs and just mistimed my jump just by a split second. So steady get in my head and run the ball carrier, my head collides right with his legs and an incident. I just lose everything from my neck down.

Did you know right away something was really, really wrong.


I didn’t, you know, I was naive. I was 18 years old. I’m thinking, you know, nothing bad can happen to me. Like I’ll be all right. Like I’m completely conscious at this point. It wasn’t like a loud like banging play or a Ooh from the crowd. It was nothing like if you watched it you wouldn’t think anything bad happen as a result. And I’m just laying there motionless. I’m just thinking, well this is embarrassing. I, I can’t get up off the field. Like just get it more time and I’ll get off the field. I’m thinking it’s a bad stinger. But obviously as time went on and nothing was changing, that’s when it started sinking in that this is bad. Hmm. What’s a bad stinger? Right. So listeners don’t know what a bad stinger is. Yeah, this is pretty much like a, like a pinched nerve. Like if like a novacane shot, then you know, like numb your mouth and it kind of wakes up. It’s just like a numbing feeling throughout your body and it’s hard to move your body or feel anything. So I’m thinking it’s just one of those stingers that’s just a little bit more severe and it usually comes back after like a minute that your sensation, your movement. But obviously this was much more than a stinger.

Do you recall what you were thinking when you were being taken off the field?

Yeah, I was at the time I was terrified. I was, I had my eyes closed because as I, the reality, I would leave the situation with sinking in. I didn’t want to accept it. I thought if I could just close my eyes and just block this out from happening, maybe just it wouldn’t be real. I don’t know. It was like only control I had at the time. I was terrified. Something that you know, met or forget to as I’m doing, you know, on the stretcher I’m being pushed across the field. The crowd begins to clap. I mean that’s just typical in sporting events. You cheer and clap for the injured athlete, but then it’s typical for the athlete. You acknowledge the crowd with a thumbs up and I’m thinking I had to let them know that I’m going to be okay. I can give them a thumbs up. So I try lifting my arm up to give a thumbs up and then I didn’t move with thing. Nothing was responding. And my joke though now is that if I could’ve gone back to that moment, I would’ve liked to have been the first athlete to ever give a thumbs down.

Everybody can quit clapping now. No, you ever seen an athlete do that? That was my idea. Okay. That let’s give credit where credit’s due already, man.

Now your lady friend a now wife, was she there at that game?

She was not. We actually met three years after my injury and we met online

and now did you, so you, you actually walked the stage for your college graduation [inaudible] am I correct with that? Did you walk across the stage?

Yes, I did. That was like our first like big walk in that video went viral. 300 million views,

300 million views. So what did, what did it feel like? Uh, seeing 300 million people are realizing that 300 million people had watched that video and that hit that that video in some way had impacted them.

It was mind-blowing. We never expected a response like that. I mean, a big motivation for me was to get my life back. I was training because I wanted to walk independently. It was a lot about myself and I thought it would be cool as well to hire a few people. And then the fact that I ended up, you really need a lot of help to get across the stage and inspiring a ton of people. It gave me so much more purpose for my life a lot. I mean, to use my pain for a purpose. And after that moment it clicked. I knew exactly what I needed to do the rest of my life. And that’s to inspire people, give people hope because we received thousands of messages from people, the world who are hurting, who are struggling. And they needed the glimmer of hope that they too can persevere through their own challenges. And so by me being an example for other people, that’s ultimately what inspired us to then walk the seven yards down the aisle of her wedding, knowing there’s an opportunity to give hope to the hopeless.

No, Chris, I, uh, I have a question for you, but then Paul Paul’s gonna one-up me with a really good question, but I’m doing my research. It appears as though you have a mini children. Is this, how many children do you have?

Oh, uh, yeah, I five girls that we adopted and we also have a small dog. I am completely outnumbered by females. But yeah, through foster care and then two adoption. We’ve had five. And then we’ve also fostered 17 children.

So you have, you have five kids that live with you right now or, or 17 or what? What’s the number who are living with you right now?

Um, five kids are living with us. So we adopted the five girls. And then as also being foster parents, we also have kids that come and go. So we did have another two girls, Sydney group and two girls with those. So we did have seven girls and the girls, that’s just like Quinta Dad’s. Not that we’re against boys, it just happens to be groups of girls.

Wow. Okay. Now Paul Paul, a hood here we were interviewing a guy who has just inspired so many people and a, you’re a football guy. Paul is a football guy. What question would you have for Mr Chris Norton? Why

was she, yeah, I was going to ask you this, that you think that the craziness with been surrounded by so many girls was a result of your injury. But we’ll, we’ll ask a serious question. Um, what do you think that, um, in your background, was there something in your background that, that you can point to that, that gave you the, the, the initial strength cause so many people would just give up and just before you, even your role in, in, in this life was to inspire people and you, you still didn’t give up what he, it, was there something in your, in your past, in your upbringing, in your faith that, that kept, it just kept you going?

Yeah, definitely. My Foundation of faith that gave me this hope, um, that there’s like the dormer of, at the glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel, that there’s something possible, even weapon complete devastation around me. So that gave me a sense of confidence to keep going. And then also just being a student athlete, just having failed over and over again, having practices and workouts where you didn’t think you could finish but you finish your games where you didn’t think he’d could come back but you came back. And just having that experience just taught me to work hard and to keep going even when it’s not easy. So it was just that experience and that self and then always taking responsibility over my life to all, no, I didn’t choose to be in this situation. I never worn this spinal cord injury. And although I can point fingers and whose fault it may be, and if it’s my fault, I just also just own that to the fact that this is my life. I have to do something about it. So there’s multiple things that came into play. But those, a couple of things, I definitely jumped into that.

Now your a, your new book, the seven longest yards, uh, the intro of the book is a written by Tim Tebow. Uh, how do you know Tim t bow? What, what’s that relationship like?

Yeah. So I’m first, I mean I need tinty though from his plane days. I’ve Florida and I’m in the hospital and I’m watching this TV special about like year, the QT of him getting ready for the NFL draft. I will say this year going to the Broncos and I was really moved by his dedication and his discipline and how hard he was working and it was inspiring to me and I just can’t off ham too many damn like I would love to talk to like I’d love to meet him and my daddy, he took that and ran with it behind my back and started through the grapevine, just spraying a word that Chris Norton would love to talk to. Tim Tebow. Anyone has any sort of connection? So of course like a friend of a friend of a friend of a friend, but eventually gotten connected. Tim and Tim called me on his personal number, not block or restricted, which I mentioned that because I’ve had a lot of players or coaches call me and it was unrestricted number, but Tim was, this is my personal number. We talked like 20 minutes and he said, if you need anything, you text me, you call me, let’s stay in touch. And so ever since my accident, we’ve stayed in touch and you’ve been true to his word and we’ve been able to meet in person, even got to meet, um, our girls as well. And he just has always told me, if you ever need anything, let me know. Well, Ms Book Opportunity came up while I, I asked him and he willingly did it.

Well, you know what’s interesting about my, my Tim Tebow, uh, bromance is located directly across me. Probably we’re in a 20,000 square foot facility. Our thrive time show offices where our team is located in right in front of me and Paul, you can verify there is my Tim Tebow, uh, are preying on the, on the wire. And uh, my wife and I are obsessed with all things. Tim Tebow, just the stance he’s taken, uh, the right stance. He’s taken for the right things over and over, even though it wasn’t convenient for his career. Um, what is his personality like? You know, when you’re up there? Columbia, I don’t want you to, obviously I’m not asking you to vote validity secrets or anything, I’m just saying, but what, what is his personality like up close cause he just seems like one of the most, uh, truly high character people on the planet.

Exactly. That’s where my expectations kind of going into meeting him and then he exceeded it. Like he just stared by you did great icons and was very personable and just really wanting to get to know me. And it wasn’t hard. It wasn’t four since he was just genuinely cared about me and what I had going on and it just wasn’t very easy conversation. As you can imagine. Uh, talking to Tim [inaudible], he’s the real deal. That’s where I’m just really honored that he’s been such a great story and it just speaks to character and who he is and everything you’ve ever done to this point. So, uh, he’s just a great person.

Hey, if you can convince him to switch to a fullback and come back on the Patriots, that would be awesome. That’s all I’m asking for it. If you could just use your influence to get them to switch positions and come back and join the Patriots after he settles down the going pro with baseball. Once it gets to the majors, maybe at the age of 35 36 he come back to the patriots switch positions. That’s all I’m asking for now. Chris Norton, in your new book, tell us some of the good things the listeners are going to find in your book. Why should all the listeners go out there and check it out?

I think what’s going to be really encouraging is that it’s going to be encouraging the fact that if you can just take one step in front. Yeah and just keep going. Even if you don’t know where you’re going with life can be beautiful that you know, guy can use our lowest moments and turn them into our greatest gifts and so I think that’s going to be rich. Really encouraging no matter what you’re going through in your life. And something else that’s really powerful about the book that I’m really proud about with my wife Emily, is that she opens up about her struggles with anxiety and depression. Something that she hates talking about, but she knows that there’s so many people out there struggling with the same sort of a mental illness and that although you can see my challenges, everyone can see them. I can’t hide them. There’s no opportunities for me to hide what I’m going through. But you can hide anxiety and depression and that if we can treat everyone like you would treat seeing someone with their struggles. A true, hopefully we treat Emily and like other people dealing with this mental illness, but I think this world would be a better place and it all still just how she was able to get through it, which I hope will be encouraging to a lot of people facing uh, anxiety, depression.

Yeah. When, when I was researching a you and your incredible wife Emily, um, I discovered that a apparently, cause you’ve got a lot of time on your hands. I mean after working with 17 kids in the foster care program and adopting five kids apparently had a lot of time on your hands. So you started this wheelchair camp because apparently you have nothing going on. Other than writing the book, the 17 foster kids, the five kids you’ve adopted, tell us what inspired you to start this wheelchair camp other than having nothing going on.

Yeah. Well, uh, is actually my wife first. When I go back in my injury, I was thinking my life is over. Like the fun is over. Like what am I going to be able to do? Like I can’t do anything. I enjoy the outdoors. I love being active and competitive. I was thinking automatically that I can’t do any of that. And it wasn’t until about 2014 where I was invited to go to this a wheelchair adaptive sports camp. And so I went into adaptive sports and it just opened my eyes to what I can do. Like I can horseback ride, I can do archery, I can do water skiing, snow skiing, zip lining, and just it just all these different sports and all these different ways they can make it work. And I was just thinking, wow, like this is something that more people need to experience.

More people need to realize, no matter what your physical challenges may be like you can still have fun and have a thrill and it just gives you then that competence at camp and it carries over to everything you do in your life. So I knew I had to get more people to at camp and so I already had a foundation started to help other people with disabilities with their recovery, but I always wanted to do my own camp. Well this week they were having first ever the crystal Orange family foundation with Sherry camp and so that’s been going really well. We have 25 campers and their families and they’re all here and we pay for everything. So it’s all free once they get here, the food and all the activities. So we’re having a blast.

Yeah, I know there’s listeners out there that would like to maybe sponsor your camp, maybe donate to the camp. There’s listeners out there that uh, uh, would maybe like to hire you to come speak to their, to their, to their organization. I know that you do a speaking event. Let’s start with the, uh, with the donation component. Um, we have a, we had a speaker on Paul, you were there. Justin Rinse was great and Justin ran is an MMA fighter who donates all of his winnings to provide fresh drinking water to people for people in Third World countries. And we raised thousands and thousands of dollars at the in person workshop here. Um, if the listeners out there want to get involved or want to learn more about donating to your cause, how can they do that? What’s the best way for them to go about doing that?

Go to Chris norton dot org that will give you the page to go towards my speaking, they go towards the foundation, go towards the book, the film also that we have coming out. So that’s like kind of your, your main landing page to learn everything about me and all the different projects I have going on and how you can make a donation right from that page.

Paul, you, I know you have a, a tough interrogation. Paint him into the corner. Chris Norton. Question here. So feel free to interrogate our guests. All right. Yeah, Christie, I’ve coached all three of my boys. They played football at the earliest age and one of them played a little college. I played a little college football and I see the, the potential for injury. Do you harbor any ill feelings towards football? Do you, are you active in, in that the sport? Do you, I mean, I’d like this shoe. I know they changed for the last couple of years. They’ve changed the kickoff rule to where they’re really trying to stop, um, uh, returns kickoff returns. So, you know, what’s your thoughts on, on the game of football?

Yeah, I mean it’s a violent game. It’s a very physical game and that’s, I mean a big part of why, you know, I loved it and enjoyed it, but I had no ill feelings against football at what happened to me. It’s such a rare thing to have had more, you’re more likely to have something like this happen to you in a car or on a bike. But the actually plays football is something that I never imagined happening. So that’s just the percentages are so low. I know for me like if I had a son I would let him play football. So I mean I think it’s, I think concussion scare me more than spinal cord injuries though. So that’s my biggest concern with football is the concussion, the brain aspect. Cause that’s just happened so much more frequently. And you just, I think for me I would probably start my, my son out like maybe in middle school.

Not that I have all the answers and know how, but that’s just my feelings on it. And I think they’re, they are trying to make it safer, but at the same time more safe that he make it the more invincible that you feel. And I knew I felt invincible, like nothing back and happen to me. So I don’t know it, it’s a tough thing, but it’s a great game that taught me so many valuable lessons and like made me the kind of man I am today. So it’s hard to ever think what I’d be like without football and those values.

Personally. It’s just a scary thought. I know I ran, I played corner and I was like, you, you know, I’m five, nine, but I’m a missile. I didn’t care. And I had the situation where a guy big, you know, he played division one college football came across the middle, uh, tied in and he caught the ball and I hit him across. I thankfully I got my head across, but uh, I didn’t get up, you know, I got knocked out. So it is a violent game, but in just little bitty things. But like you say, there’s people that could walk out in the street and get hit by a car. So I love the game myself too. I love your attitude. And also what I’m hearing is, you know, people, uh, that go through struggle ended up really, they can either have a, a massive impact on, uh, the people that around them that hear their story or they can, you know, Kinda roll up into a ball in the corner. And I really appreciate you, my friend for the, the what you’re sharing and what you’re bringing to the world.

Now, Chris Norton I like to watch a lot of NFL might, you know, the Mike series where they do the NFL and you can watch what the players are saying and Tim Tebow, Mike that you’re on the Broncos, you’ll have to let them know. My wife and I were like crying. It’s so awesome. And so, and so. It’s so awesome. And you have a documentary. Uh, my understand is you have a documentary, uh, that’s been made about your, your life. Is that, is that a tear jerker to cause it between Tim Tebow. Mike and your video, I might have to rehydrate myself.

Yeah, you might have to hydrate yourself. I watched my, the filmmakers told me like the first 33 minutes of it and there’s a couple trans, especially my parents, they really, they get me, uh, they choked me up and I mean, I knew when I’m going to say I knew everything that I’ve gone through. Like I, this is not emotional for me, but just hearing it from other perspectives and how it’s affected them like that can really, um, pulling your heart strings.

Chris, I appreciate you being on the show, uh, more than I could possibly. I’ll tell you. I think it’s just awesome what you’re doing. I know there’s somebody out there listening today that needed to hear this story. Somebody out there that needed to get this encouragement. And I would encourage everybody out there if you know of anybody who’s, uh, been impacted by a spinal cord injury or any type of, uh, it’s, it’s, it’s, it’s devastating. And I would encourage you to pick up a copy of this book, the longest yards, the seven longest yards, the seven longest yards. Because this book could be an inspiration for them or maybe someone they know pick up that book today and end. Uh, Chris, if we had, if you had to give the listeners out there, just one final little push to go out there and buy that book because somebody out there is going, I want to buy the book, but I have to go all the way to Amazon and click that button. I gotta go all the way there and click the button. I mean, can you kind of encourage the listeners out there who are just one mouse click away, but they’re just, oh, they’re just, they’re gonna have to, you know, delay gratification and invest $17 and 70 cents in the book. Well, what, what encouragement would you have for listeners to encourage them to go out there and buy that book?

Man, I think this book will be a kind of a blueprint to how you can take life’s lowest moment moments and turn them into your greatest blessings and that we’re all going to go through hard things in life, but we can actually use them for our good and our benefit. And I think this book will just open your eyes to what’s possible with your life. And I knew for me and for Emily, there’s many times where we thought our lives were over. Things were just completely done, but we just kept going. We found my courage and strength to move forward and we’re thankful that a, you know, God has a better plan for us and the plan we made for ourselves. So, uh, I would encourage you to go pick up the book because it’s gonna. It’s gonna push you to keep moving forward.

Chris Norton, thank you. You

are a great American. I hope you have an incredible and incredible, hey my friend. Thank you Chris. Yeah, you too. Thanks so much for having me on the show. That’s been fun.


it. Now is any further ado, we’d like to end each and every show with a boom Paul Hood with hood CPA’s. Are you prepared to bring the boom? I am ready my friend. I’m ready to bring the boom. You’re ready to bring the boom. We’re all ready to bring the business conferences boom. I know with any further, I do three, two, one, boom.



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