Ep 268: Turning Your Struggles into Your Story with Chris Norton

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When Chris Norton went out to play his sixth game of college football, he had no idea the life-changing effect that game would have on his life.

On the field that day he contracted a spinal cord injury that would alter the course of his life and leave him with a three percent chance of ever walking again, or doing any other type of small movement, like scratching his face.

In our conversation, Chris shares what a dark and difficult time this was in his life and how he was motivated by his determination to overcome the odds and walk again.

What he didn’t know at the time was that years later he would walk across the stage at graduation and that a video of that moment would go viral around the world.

Since then, his story has been published and has also been recorded in the documentary, 7 Yards: The Chris Norton Story, which can now be found on Netflix.

Chris describes what he has learned in the years since his injury and how you can still live a meaningful life, even if you’re bound to a wheelchair.

He talks about the incredible relationships he has formed during his life, and how he and his wife Emily have come to adopt six kids and foster nineteen.

We also spend some time talking about Chris’s first public speaking opportunity and how he realized that it was possible to pursue speaking as a career.

He shares what speaking has meant for him and his family, how he’s honed his craft through study and coaching, and what he’s done to sustain his speaking career long-term.

Today’s episode is deeply inspiring and a testament to appreciating and fully embracing the life you have!

Tune in to hear more of Chris’s story and what it means to live a meaningful life.

KEY POINTS FROM THIS EPISODE

  • The story of how Chris experienced a debilitating spinal cord injury while playing college football.
  • How Chris got the news that he was unlikely to ever walk again.
  • The surreal and awful experience of having your life change in an instant.
  • Determination Chris felt to overcome the odds and walk again.
  • Time it took for Chris to learn how to adapt to his new circumstances.
  • Chris’s realizations around mental health and happiness.
  • Some of the reductive ways the general public views people with disabilities.
  • How you can still live a meaningful life, even if you’re bound to a wheelchair.
  • The value of appreciating the small things and focusing on what you can control.
  • How Chris came to accept that he wouldn’t return to his former physical strength.
  • When Chris’s story first began to inspire others.
  • The motivation Chris found in the people who were inspired by his story.
  • The story of how Chris’s speaking career started and how it’s helped him support his family.
  • The work that Chris did to foster his talent for speaking, like studying his footage and hiring coaches.
  • The documentary, 7 Yards: The Chris Norton Story, and the long journey of how it was made.
  • The meaning that Chris and Emily’s 6 adopted children and the 19 children they fostered have brought to their lives.
  • Hear about the television show that Chris has coming up.

TWEETABLE MOMENTS

“No matter how hard I tried to push through my arms and onto the ground, nothing was working. I was completely conscious, not in any pain, I just couldn’t move. And I felt like someone just flipped the power off to my body. And what I didn’t know at the time was that I had just suffered a severe spinal cord injury and my life was about to drastically change.” — Chris Norton [0:04:31]

“Clearly, happiness has nothing to do with your physical strength or possession [and] everything to do with your mindset and your mental health. And I began to see those pieces as I kind of got my life back into a new routine.” — Chris Norton [0:11:07]

“It took years, actually, for me to come to the conclusion that I can still live a meaningful life. You know, adversity and failure are part of life. And if you try holding on to it, it’s going to rob you of your future.” — Chris Norton [0:12:07]

“There are so many little things that you can find in your life to appreciate if you have the will. And that’s what I’ve really kind of developed — the muscle for focusing on what I can do. Where are the areas that I can influence and make a change, and not keep my attention on what I can’t control or what I can’t do.” — Chris Norton [0:14:30]

“I wasn’t trying to be an inspiration, I was trying to get my life back. But when people are writing to you and saying they have a different perspective on life because of how you live yours, that gave me motivation,” — Chris Norton [0:20:11]

“There were times when I wanted to give up on myself, where I wanted to quit. But when I thought about the other people who were looking to me for inspiration and hope, I didn’t want to give up on them. I wanted them to find their own courage through me.” — Chris Norton [0:20:23]

About Chris Norton

Chris Norton got knocked down. Hard. After suffering a spinal cord injury playing college football he lost all feeling and movement from the neck down. Chris was only given a 3% chance to ever move again.

He could have let it define him. But our lives aren’t shaped by circumstance. They’re shaped by us. Perseverance isn’t about the physical act of standing: it’s about attitude, and the ability to shape yourself in the face of adversity.

With the support of his friends, family, faith, and the love of his life, Emily, Chris proved the doctors wrong and walked the stage at graduation that went viral worldwide. Then walked his bride, Emily, 7 yards down the aisle of their wedding. They are foster parents and have adopted 5 girls.

His story has been published twice – first with his father, and now with Emily. Plus, a documentary about his life story is out on Netflix, Amazon Prime, and AppleTV titled 7 Yards: Chris Norton Story.

Chris was named one of ITA Group’s hottest keynote speakers. He travels across the country to inspire people from all walks of life and demonstrates how to focus on our abilities to unlock the POWER TO STAND.

LINKS MENTIONED IN THIS EPISODE

Chris Norton

Chris Norton on Instagram

Chris Norton on Facebook

7 Yards: The Chris Norton Story

AJ Vaden on LinkedIn

AJ Vaden on Twitter

Rory Vaden

Rory Vaden on LinkedIn

Rory Vaden on Twitter

Take the Stairs

Brand Builders Group

Brand Builders Group Free Call

Brand Builders Group Resources

The Influential Personal Brand Podcast on Stitcher

The Influential Personal Brand Podcast on Apple

RV (00:02): Well, one of the joys of my life of being a speaker is that I get to see other speakers and my entire life I’ve come across speakers, who I’ve gotten to know personally who have climbed Mount Everest and walked out of the Andy’s mountains on barefoot and won, you know, national championships and world championships, Epson just overcome really amazing things. And today I feel like I’m, I’m meeting one of those people for the first time. You’re about to meet Chris Norton. We new friends, so we’ve never even talked. But I have been familiar with his story. He knows my friend Tyler Dickerhoof and you know, a lot of the same people and some of the same circles that we’ve been. We’ve been hanging out with David nurse. And I’ve heard really great things about Chris and he had a a spinal cord injury when he was playing college football and lost all feeling and movement from his neck down. RV (01:02): He was only given a three chance of ever really moving and walking again. And it was, you know, clearly a, a difficult and dark moment in his life. But with the support of his friends and family like you know, his, the love of his life, Emily Chris proved the Dr. Wrong. He walked across the stage at graduation and the video of that went viral like around, around the world. And later he walked his, his bride, Emily seven yards down the aisle at their wedding. So his story has been published in, in a book. It was been a documentary about his life story is out right now on Netflix and Amazon prime and apple TV. It’s called seven yards referring to the seven yards of Chris walking, his wife down the aisle, seven yards, the Chris Norton story. And he is a, a, a really fast rising speaker and just an awesome guy. It’s a Chris, it’s great to meet you. Welcome to the show. CN (02:07): Yeah. Thank you, Rory, for having me and for that great introduction. And it’s just an honor to talk with you and I’ve heard so many great things about yourself, so great to be here. RV (02:17): So tell me your, so tell me this story, man. So you are living the dream. You’re playing college. One, one moment. You’re playing college football and then in a second it changes. CN (02:28): Yeah, absolutely. So I’ll take you back. 11 years ago, freshman year Luther college in decor, Iowa live the dream. I had these big plans for myself, be this all American football player, meet the girl, my dreams. And then I was hoping to make enough money to on a lake house or better yet the girl of my dreams family already on lake house. But then you know, life happens and it was during the sixth game of my college football season, a third quarter were mounting a comeback. So I ran out to the field and a kickoff and the kicker huddles us up. He calls a play mortar kick, right. Which is simply a, a short, high arching kick to the right side of the field. And I don’t know why would, didn’t just call it kick, right? Because our kicker was so bad. Every kick was short and high arching, but yeah, anyway, you know, I’m pumped because I play on the right side of the field. CN (03:23): So it’s my opportunity to make an impact. That’s why I line up the boss kicked. I sprint down, feels hard as I possibly can go. I see an opening for me and my instincts are telling me that ball carrier, he’s in, try running through that gap. I gonna stop. I’m gonna drive my shoulder so hard through his legs. He’s gonna drop the ball. I go for it. I collide with him at full speed, full force, but I miss time my tackle by a split second, instead of getting my head in front of the ball, carry my head, cor collides, right with his knees in an instant, I was all feeling a movement for my I’m. Listening to the players, crashing to each other above me. Now the whistle blows, the pile clears off, but I can’t get up no matter how hard I try to push through my arms and onto the ground, nothing is working. I was completely conscious. Not in any pain, just couldn’t move. It felt like someone just flipped the power off to my body. And what I didn’t know at the time was I just suffered a severe spinal cord injury in my life was about to drastically change. RV (04:39): So the was the reason you weren’t any pain was just cuz you lost all feeling. CN (04:46): Yeah. So your spinal cord the, the nerve nervous system, it communicates with your brain. So pretty much it got almost completely severed where even all pain feeling, everything was disconnected temporarily from the neck down. So that’s why I couldn’t feel any pain, anything, no movement was because of the damage done to the spinal cord. RV (05:11): Wow. So, so what happens next? So they clearly, they wheel you off the field. You start going to doctors and getting tests and like when, when when’s the first time that you hear that you’re not gonna be able of the walk again. CN (05:26): Yeah. I’m flown out to Mayo clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. Get x-ray all these tests done to get me ready for surgery. And it was right before surgery. I haven’t been asking questions. I’ve been too scared to ask, like what’s gonna happen because I wanted to make sure they had all their, all the information that they needed to give me the best answer possible. At least the most informed answer possible. And when I asked the surgeon right before I put the slate, you know, Hey, will I walk again? And in my mind that’s a huge compromise. I, I was, you know, praying and bargaining with God. Like, Hey, I will give up sports. I don’t need to play another sport in my life, which at the time, like that’s a huge deal. Like I, I was an athlete. That was my identity. I love competition. CN (06:14): I love competing and the weight room, everything involved with athletics. I love, and I could give that all up, but just let me walk. And when I ask him that I could just see in his face, the answer was no. And he just looks down at the ground and says, I don’t know. And then I’m put to sleep after that. And I, when he said that too, I just started crying. Like I lost it. I was like really holding it in trying to be tough, trying to be strong, trying to be optimistic that things are gonna be okay, it’s gonna work out because leading up to this point, everything always worked out for me. I never had gone through anything. Life altering, not even, not myself or even people close to me. It just wasn’t on my radar that something like this could happen to me. I thought it happened to people you read about in the newspaper, you watch on television, but not my life. I thought I was immune to that and it was just my world was just shattered in that moment. And then I wake up the next day blurry. RV (07:17): So how long were you, how long were you in surgery? CN (07:21): The surgery lasted about four hours. Wow. And then I, I wake up, you know, the next day, you know, groggy, blurry, eyed thinking. I just had the worst nightmare of my life. But then, you know, the surgeon comes in and confirms my worst nightmare is now my new reality. And he says, Chris, you have a 3% chance to ever move or feel below the neck. And that’s not a 3% chance to walk. That’s a 3% chance to move or to feel, to scratch and itch on your face to feed yourself. And it was just so surreal. I, I could hardly process it because yes, at this time I was walking now I was suiting up for my college football game. And then all of a sudden I’m lying in the hospital, paralyzed from my neck down with a 3% chance to ever move or feel again. And I’m. RV (08:12): And so you can’t move your, you can’t move your hands, your toes, you can’t raise your arm. You’re just completely still, but totally conscious and full mentally aware. CN (08:22): Yeah, completely. Wow. Like I know how to move my body. Like I know what it takes to, you know, move my hand in my face or to adjust my leg or pull the covers up. But like literally nothing would respond or work. I felt like I was ahead detached for my body and just looking at the rest of body, it was just a foreign object because I had no connection to it at all. RV (08:48): So the doctor tells you that. So that happens like within a day or two. And then, and then how long are you in the hospital? And like, when do you, when do you come home? Cuz I have to think it starts to really become real when you leave the hospital and like your whole life is different. I mean can’t shower, can’t eat, can’t get dressed. CN (09:10): Yeah. It was a, a slow than just kind of a grind from that moment on of I’m gonna do whatever it takes to get a little bit better. I’m gonna be part of that 3%. I won’t be that 97% who don’t recover from this. And so I just make that commitment of just understanding that, you know, your future will take care of itself when you take care of today. And I kept reminding myself that your future will take care of itself when you take care of today. And so I just kept trying to get a little bit better each and every day. And you know, by the, you know, grace of God and perseverance and grit, family and friends, I slowly started to make a recovery where I had some movement in my legs, some movement in my arms, unable to like walk independently or do much. CN (09:55): I depend independence wise. But I was inpatient for about four months outpatient for about three months. And that was all in Rochester, Minnesota, which is about three hours from my home. So when I officially made that move back home in Des Moines, Iowa, it was a huge transition like you’re suggesting going from, you know, your house, you know, my room was upstairs. So I I’ve never been back to my, my bedroom because I can’t it’s stairs. And just realizing all these obstacles that you have to navigate. And the way of life, you have to look at it from an accessibility mindset and of not just being able to breeze over opposite goals. So it was definitely a large change. But thankfully, you know, my parents were very encouraging. They, they pushed me to get outta my comfort zone and they weren’t gonna let me just, you know, stay home and you know, feel sorry for myself. CN (10:50): They got me out there and eventually I went back to college, actually the following fall and my buddies became my caregiver and my sister relocated to apartment just off campus to help with a huge transition. And then slowly started to kind of get my life back together. And, and that’s when I started to realize too, like, you know, happiness is not measured in steps, right there there’s people who can run, jump and swim who are unhappy. So, you know, clearly happiness has nothing to do with your fits strength or possession, everything to do with your mindset and your mental health. And I began to, to see those pieces as I kind of got my life back into a new routine. RV (11:31): How, how soon did you really embrace that? I mean like, I mean, there’s gotta be, I mean, have to feel like there’s that some there’s like this wave of hopelessness and despair, right. Has to be of like, oh my gosh, like I’m not gonna be running and jumping maybe ever again, maybe walking, never again to, to, to, to then going, well, that doesn’t mean I can’t be happy ever again. And realizing like what you just shared that like, there’s a lot of people who can do those things who are unhappy. CN (12:05): Absolutely. so it, wasn’t a flip of a switch. I’ll tell you that and know me talking about it might make it sound easy and it’s not for anybody who’s gone through something life altering, it, it takes time to kind of pick up the pieces and to learn a new, a new way of living and a new beginning really kind of restarting your life. And it, it took years actually for me to come to that conclusion that, you know, I can still live a meaningful life, you know, adversity and failure are a part of life. And if you try holding onto it, it’s gonna Rob you of your future. Now things will never be perfect, but just because you aren’t getting the results you want or living the life you dreamed of doesn’t mean you stop trying, or that’s not a life we’re living for. CN (12:53): And so by, you know, getting back out there, getting my education, being with my buddies, starting to date again, met Emily started my own foundation, started speaking. I began to see, you know, I could still live a meaningful life right from my wheelchair. And at first, when I was first injured and even those first couple years, I thought that would be impossible. Like for me to get my life back meant me getting back to walking on my own, no wheelchair. And so if I wasn’t gonna be walking, being in a wheelchair would mean failure. And that for some reason I thought that I would not be a good enough person or I would not be seen as valuable by being in a wheelchair. But I put in my self out there building friendships, relationships starting the business, getting back to others, serving others. CN (13:42): I begin to realize, you know, that’s, that was a lie. It’s not true. I was attached to this idea that you have to be walking to live a good life and it’s just not true. And I know it gets portrayed all the time though. I mean, I go out in public, I get P people all the time. I don’t hold it against them, but they’re always like, man, I feel so sorry for you. Oh my gosh, you’re in a wheelchair like, oh man, I, I can’t imagine like they’re, they’re very sympathetic. And I, cause they’re kind of projecting their own fears like onto me that I think about it all the time and that I’m miserable all the time and I’m not like I, I focus on what I can do and, and what people don’t fail to realize too, being in a wheelchair and having a spinal cord injury actually have some CRA perks to it. CN (14:26): And in fact, like a couple of my favorite perks is like, you can, there’s no standing in line. Like while people are waiting in line complaining that their feet hurt, their legs are tied. You know, I’m just chilling my chair. Like this is really, or like when you go somewhere, there’s a front row parking spot for like, you get the best parking now where I live in south Florida, it’s really competitive here for those parking spots. You, you hear little things like that and you can’t feel mosquito bytes. I can have 30 mosquitoes on my legs at a campfire now. I don’t feel a thing. It’s awesome. So there’s so many little things that you can find in your life to appreciate if you have the will. And that’s what I’ve really kind of develop the muscle for is focusing on what I can do. CN (15:12): Where are the areas that I can influence and make a change and, and not keep my attention on what I, I can’t control or what I, I can’t do. And that’s easier said than done. Obviously, like there are definitely moments where I’m just like, man, this sucks. Like I see my kids playing in the pool. I wanna jump in there. I wanna throw ’em around. I want to play catch with them with the baseball and teach. ’em How to swing a bat. There. There’s so many things, you know, like that are hard and frustrating, but I have to then just go back to okay, what kind of dad can I be? What, what kind of husband can I be? Not the one I wish I could be. You can still be a great dad, even though I’m, I’m not in the pool with him or I’m teaching, ’em how to throw a ball. And so there’s definitely things that you have to just embrace and accept, but that’s that’s life too, right there. There’s things that you have to just learn to let go of, if you wanna live a meaningful, purposeful life. RV (16:08): And you said that like the first year or so, was that, was it like a year or two to where you really started to come around? Cuz I can sense that just in talking to you that you, you know, you’re not unhappy, you’re really happy. You’ve got all these great friendships and you’ve got kids and a family, like you’re doing all these great things with your business. Is, is it, was it like a year or two to get to that point? CN (16:30): Yeah, it was, it was big, very gradual. You know, it is just little moments that just kept, you know, opening my eyes to that possibility of like, well maybe if I don’t walk, I’ll still be okay. And it takes time. It took, yeah, like I said, years, probably three or four years to really come to terms with that. Probably probably more like maybe four years to really come to terms with that like peacefully where I stopped holding onto this idea of, I must walk and cause I trained all the time I was putting in you know, even with full load of school credits, you know, sometimes six to eight hours of training on top of college and trying to do everything to live a college experience. Like I was obsessed with working out and trying to get my strength back and you know, I’m glad I did. CN (17:28): I’m glad I tried it cuz I can look back now and say, you know what? I gave it a try. I tried to get as much strength back as possible. And I, I brought myself a long ways, but it, it just wasn’t in the card. Like at some point you kind of realized Theios in the wall that you need to make a transition, right? You need to make a pivot. And that’s what I did. And I started to focus more on contributing back to others, serving others through my motivational speaking that I love to do. And through my foundation, the Chris Norton foundation, and then we, you know, began fostering and adopting. So I have a load of kids like seven kids right now, bro. RV (18:03): Wow, wow. Seven kids. CN (18:05): Yeah. And then like documentary and the books. And so I’m just trying to give back, serve others. I feel like I was called to do this and to use my story and my testimony to give people hope and to see the possibilities, even with the adversity that they’re facing, even when their lives have completely been flipped upside down, there is still a way forward. Even it’s not the way that you wanted to go. RV (18:34): Wow, man. What a, what an amazing perspective. Like, so, so walk us through like the, a little bit of your personal brand story. Like, so this happens to you. So like what year does this happen? And then is the first like real big development. They filmed you at graduation and that went viral. Was that kind of like the first like, whoa, my story is inspiring. A lot of other people, CN (19:00): It actually happened right when it took place with my injury. So my family when I was injured, a lot of people were messaging them. Like, what’s the updates? Like how, how Chris doing today? Like, is there any progress? And instead of messaging back individually, like a hundred people, they started what’s called like a caring bridge page. It’s pretty much just like an online blog set up for families who are updating others on a, when they’re in the hospital or something. So you don’t have to you know, like I said, message everyone individually. So they post updates on what I was doing, what the family was doing, the progress. And people began following that blog very closely. I think it had like 400,000 hits or something of people just following along this story and how people were inspired by my attitude that I was gonna beat the, and I was gonna get better and I wasn’t gonna quit. CN (19:54): And stop working and people were writing like, Hey, like I, I stopped going to church. I’m dealing with depression. And after, you know, hearing your story, it’s given the courage to, to get back out there to, to go back to church or to, to find a job or to pick up my, although it may feel broken at the moment. And so when you start reading these stories and you’re being told how, you know, just me trying to get better, I wasn’t trying to be an inspiration. I was just trying to get my life back. But when people are writing to you and saying like, they have a different perspective on life because of how you live yours, like, wow. Like that gave me motivation. That gave me more is cuz there were times when I wanted to give up on myself where I wanted to quit. CN (20:37): But when I thought about the other people who were looking to me for inspiration and hope, I didn’t want to give up on them. I, I wanted them to find their own courage through me. And so that’s why I kept going a lot of cases and why I keep even going today. Just feel like there’s an opportunity to inspire others. So that’s all to say that next year. Maybe like a small group, like an FCA group at a high school, like, Hey, can you share your testimony with us? Like how do you stay positive and get through your, your challenges? And so I started just sharing my story just very off hand, just from the hip and people were leaning in, they were listening. They, they wanted to know what I had to say about life and staying hopeful and how to get through adversity. CN (21:24): And I liked it. I liked the fact that they, they were leaning in, they wanted to know more and I could, you know, kind of captivate an audience and entertain them and, and give them the tools to, to improve their lives. And like this feels good. And then someone told me, Hey, you know, you can make money by being a motivational speaker. Like what you can get paid to just beat the people on a stage. I thought that was just like a, like an honor or like a privilege just to get up there. And it’s like a free thing. And like, no, like this is something people do for a living full time. And if it’s something you you want to do, you could, you should definitely pursue it. And ever since I heard that and I knew I could, you know, make a living from helping others and living out my purpose, like sign me up. And so I started just speaking everywhere. I could, I mean, anybody who would listen and doesn’t matter how small the group was or how far away I, I wanted to share my story and testimony and it just kind of snowballed into, you know, a business that can take care of my whole family and live comfortably. RV (22:27): So yeah. So is the, so with those fairly early speaking engagements, like you, you start out doing ’em for free. How many do you think you did before you started charging? And did you just kind of like, did most of the people find you just from hearing your story from other people and they came to you or did you have some way of contacting them and finding them? CN (22:47): Yeah, it’s a little bit of both. So some of it, it was like go for the low hanging fruit, like my old high school and elementary and middle school, like get to speak to them. That’s pretty easy entry point or just a local elementary or church group. I just tried to reach out to as many people that I knew who had a group and that who would want bring in speakers. I, I did a ton of rotary clubs cause I know they would bring in guests and I would say, you know, 95% of those were all free. Just I knew I needed the practice. I needed the at bats. It wasn’t something that just came natural to me. I felt comfortable on stage, but I didn’t have a, I just like charismatic, entertaining way of doing it unless I practiced and worked on it. CN (23:35): I started videotaping every single speech so I could go back and watch it as painfully as I was. I knew I had to watch the film and then I, you know, started hiring coaches and people that could help, you know, transform my message and get me even further. And when I realized that, you know, to get more speeches, you have to have a, a killer speech. Like that’s how you get more. It’s, it’s a referral business. And I didn’t wanna depend on my viral moments or my story to, to get me in the door. I wanted my presentation and the transformation that can occur from it to be what opens a door for places. And I knew that was gonna be what would sustain my business long term. So think I’ve gotten good advice, good people around me to kind of point in the right direction and to get it to where he is today. But I don’t wanna my story to be well, it is, you know, what definitely draws people in to wanna hire me. It’s not what lifts my business, it’s the, the presentation and the, the time I feel that I put into it to make it very entertaining and humorous and, and uplifting. RV (24:50): And, and so, so talk us through the how does the Netflix thing happen? How, like how, how does a documentary come about? Was that something that you kind of went out and, and were seeking or did somebody come to you and like, what are the mechanics of getting a documentary film and putting it together? And how long does that take? Like the whole, the whole thing? CN (25:11): Yeah, it was a long process. It was after my graduation walk, video went viral, a small production company at a Dallas. The photo philanthropy was the name and they loved sharing, uplifting, inspiring stories. Now first they just offered, Hey, we would love, love to give you a gift by just filming your wedding. We would come there, they have, you know, professional cameras and a crew and capture it, maybe put together like a little short, inspirational video for people, but then they just kind of snowballed from that to let’s do a full below documentary. They done two before, so this would be their third one. And it was just the right timing. And so we began, you know, filming, promoting it even before the walk actually. So we named the movie seven yards before I could even walk seven yards. That was a little scary. RV (26:05): Wow. CN (26:06): But I knew it, it gave me something you for gave me something to really work on. But yeah, it’s a lot of so they’re a small production house. It’s not like a big Hollywood thing where they have a bunch of funding and money to do this or that basically what we had to do. It was a nonprofit. So basically we’d have to fundraise then we’d film a little bit. And then once money ran out, we stopped, you know, try to get some fundraising, get some money. And then once we did, we go out and do some more filming, so really stop and go stop and go strung together over years, really. Wow. Filming in 2017 and the movie came out in 2021 to kind of give you an idea of four years in the making wow. Before it happened. CN (26:54): But so we, we kept shooting, kept filming. They put it together, found an agent that would, you know, get, be able to get in the doors of somewhere like a Netflix and apple TV and Amazon prime. And thankfully by the, you know, Chris of God that Netflix wanted it. And so we were able to get it in there. And then at first I’m thinking it’s not a Netflix original. So, you know, some tie titles on their platform have the, the end in the corner and that’s a Netflix original film. They, they give the most marketing and promotion and, and back backing. Well, so this one’s just an independent title. So my mind it’s gonna get on there. It’s gonna get buried. Netflix is loaded with films, docu memories, all these things like no one’s ever gonna see it. And then it just exploded. Like it was on trending and popular. It started to receive thousands of messages of just how encouraged inspired they were from this film. So I was so blown away by the response to that, that film. And I’m so glad that it could get out there and really make a difference to many people. RV (28:10): That’s so that’s really, really cool. How much does it cost to, like how much fundraising, like what does it cost to film a documentary? Is it like millions of dollars? Is it a couple hundred thousand dollars? CN (28:21): It, I mean, it kind of depends on what you’re using and the different elements to it, but this one would be like 250,000, I think all in when you pay all the people involved, the, RV (28:35): All the editing, the equipment, the rentals, the travel, like it’s a ton of stuff, CN (28:40): Ton of stuff. And they were able to get it like a 250,000, which is considering, is on Netflix or what’s out there. That is a very low budget film. RV (28:51): Wow. That’s really, really cool, man. So like so what now? So what, what next? So you have seven kids. So you normally got married. You’ve, you’ve adopted seven kids CN (29:05): Adopted six and then we’re fostering one right now. So we have fostered a total of 19 kids in all. Wow. So that’s something that was a, a passion of my wife that she then passed on to me and helped open my eyes to all the kids who don’t feel loved, who are coming from abusive homes. And they’re either put with a fam foster family, they’re put into group homes, which is, you know, they used to call it orphanages. And now it’s, they’re called group homes. And so we, we just breaks our heart and we hear these stories of these kids needing a home and a place to go. They don’t feel loved and wanted and like they belong. And so try to help them to see their value and how loved they are by by us and by God and everybody it’s been a really neat calling and it’s really made our lives just gives us more me, these kids. CN (30:01): And, you know, we kind of went into it. We’re, we’re gonna help them, but you know, they, they give just as much back to you just having them in your lives, they’re all very special and, and unique. So that’s been an incredible thing. That’s and then what’s next though. Yeah. Is sorry, add that too is yeah. Now I’m gonna do a an unscripted TV show now with Netflix of just how to help people find a way forward of how can you pick up the pieces of something life altering and continue down the road. So kind of like a, a fixer upper, but for the soul really is how we are calling it. So we’d like to get this show up and going and find a home for it. But that’s kind of my, my next project outside of speaking, like speaking’s always gonna be, I feel my number one thing. I love doing it, but I also want to get, do some more TV stuff and try to do something reality. TV wise, that’s meaningful and purposeful, and it’s gonna help people’s lives. RV (31:06): Yeah. I never, I guess I never even realized that that was how cuz that’s how the book business works. Right? You create a book proposal, get a literary agent, litera agent takes a proposal, shops it to publishers. They give you an advance and then you sell a bunch of copies are not your advance. And then you get royalties, I guess that that’s probably the same way a documentary is. They pay you some amount of money and then based on the streams or something, you get, you earn royalties after that. CN (31:29): There’s a lot of different ways to go about it. But that’s probably the basic way is you, you come up with a project and an idea, and then you hope that you get initial funding from like a big streaming platform, like a Netflix where they say, yeah, we want this. And then they’ll give you a budget. They’ll give you directors, producers, they’ll give you kind of a team of that. They kind of want you to work with, and then they let you kind of run with it or you come to them with a finished product. And you try to get that onto their, their platform with when when’s already finished. So there’s different ways to kind of go about it, but yeah, very similar to a book. RV (32:11): Yeah. Well that’s awesome, man. So you’re still like just speaking and, and maybe reality TV. Some, I love the fixer upper for your soul. Kind of an idea. I mean, there’s so many people that are hurting and broken and it just, it seems like you’re really just drawn to doing that work. CN (32:31): Yeah. I, like I told you about the kind of that transformation for me of thinking, oh my gosh, I’m in a wheelchair. Like my life is now over. I can’t do the things that I want to do. Like the fun has stopped. I’m not gonna be able to do anything exciting. Well, that’s not true. I, you know, I’ve been skiing and I’ve gone on jet skis and concerts and traveling what snorkeling and, you know, scuba diving and like there’s so many things, hiking, mountain climb, like there’s so many things I’ve been able to do and have a family and start a business. There’s that? I’m not like some I’m not cut from a different cloth. Like I’m just I’m from a small town in Iowa, just like, there’s nothing special about me other than just, I just try to focus on the possibilities to try to see way forward. CN (33:19): And, and thankfully too, I’ve had good people to help me too, kind of open my eyes to what is possible. And I want to help be that person for more people who feel like, oh my gosh, this life altering thing. Life is over. It stops now. Cause I’m not living the life that I pictured that it would look like. And so I want to break that bear for them and, and with a team of people to show them what is possible and empower them to, to continue to move forward. So that’s again a passion project now that I’m working on that there’s a lot of work ahead, but something that I’m hoping to get going, RV (33:58): Where do you want people to go, Chris, if they wanna connect with you and kind of follow your journey, like what’s the best place for them to, to keep up with you these days? CN (34:05): Yeah. I mean go to my website, Chris norton.org to learn even more about me and connect, but Instagram and Facebook are probably my two primary places that I update and, and share what’s going on. RV (34:22): Wow, man. It, it really is an inspiring story. And thank you for choosing to have that attitude and for continuing to see what’s possible. And cuz it is, it, it inspires me and I know it’s gonna inspire a ton of people, listen to this. And and I can sense you’re just getting started in the impact that you’re gonna have globally with, with sharing your story. So we’re, we’re grateful for, for you and your family and your wife and man, we just wish you the best stay, stay connected with us and, and let us know how we can help and just keep going, brother. CN (34:59): Yeah. Thank you. I really appreciate that RO and like I said, it’s be here. Talk with you. I’ve always followed you and looked up to you as a, as a man, as a, as a business owner, husband, father, all those things. And so it’s great to be able to speak with you today.

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