The worst nightmare for parents of an athlete, in my head, is seeing your child get injured. Usually it’s just scary, the daughter or son gets up, and all is well.
On the day Chris Norton went down following a tackle at a college football game, everything was not well. Chris hit the turf, he couldn’t move, and in a small town a helicopter is a bad sign, and on this day it was the sign Chris’ injury wasn’t the type he would just be able get up from.
This is the start of “7 Yards: The Chris Norton Story,” a documentary about the struggles and triumphs Chris had following his injury, and his journey to walk seven yards down the aisle at his wedding.
So, Chris goes down, and in simple terms, Chris injured his neck and was given a 3% chance of any being able to move again. And so the journey begins.
The documentary leans heavily on hope and progress. Sure, there are glimpses of Chris going through mental challenges, but when he was able to move his arm a little, he had hope, when he was feeling down a nurse came in and said, “You will beat this,” and Chris had hope. Even when a doctor came in with no hope, dismissing as a “phantom” feeling Chris’ explaining to said doctor that he had some feeling in his big toe, Chris had hope and was determined to prove the doctor wrong.
Chris put it, “I was naive to believe in myself.” Sure enough, the doctor was proven wrong.
As the documentary progresses, it’s on to the next stage of Chris’ inspirational recovery. He’s out of the hospital and back to “normal” life after being discharged following months of therapy at The Mayo Clinic. Sure, he’s still in a wheelchair, but is a little bit more mobile in his upper body and has some leg movement.
Eventually Chris finds love with Emily, and we get to what would lead to Chris becoming a national news story – He wanted to walk across the stage at his college graduation.
At this point watching the documentary, we know we can’t put anything past Chris as, sure enough, following intense training, there he was, walking, with a little help, to get his diploma. No, it wasn’t like Chris was bouncing across the stage doing summersaults, but yes, I got weepy even knowing the scene was coming.
As Chris’ video of determination and hope goes viral with over 300 million views, Chris finds himself on the national stage, and maybe you might think the story is over.
What happens when you have a great person by your side, and you want to spend the rest of your life with them? Yup, Emily accepts Chris’ proposal ,and it was on to Chris’ next goal of walking with Emily, arm and arm, down the aisle, seven yards, after the vows are said.
You see, up until this time, when Chris walked, someone was leading in front of him as it was more stable, but that wasn’t what Chris wanted. He wanted to be by Emily’s side, and well, with Chris’ track record of progress, it was going to happen.
And, oh yea, we also find out Chris and Emily decide to become foster parents, then adoptive parents, of five kids.
How’s that for being an inspiration, or at times for me, my sitting there going, “Crap, what a lazy, complaining slug I can be?”
“7 Yards: The Chris Norton Story” is about as inspirational as an inspirational documentary can get. It recreates some of the earlier parts of Chris’ life, those that didn’t have footage, especially since it wasn’t like the minute Chris went down someone said, “We have to film everything for a move ten years from now!”, intermixed with actual footage of Chris’ journey, and countless interviews of those around him.
The documentary does a good job spotlighting the many people around Chris who helped him in his progress from the injury, and really is a feel-good film. About the only thing that bothered me was the length. It clocks in at an a little over an hour and half, so sometimes there is the “Alright already, we get it, Chris is an inspiration. Show him walk across the stage!”
It’s 3 1/2 stars out of 5 for “7 Yards: The Chris Norton Story.” I did get weepy a few times along Chris’ journey, and his story is quite the inspiration for anyone going through struggles. Go ahead, watch Chris, and then try to complain about your life because it probably doesn’t have nearly any of the challenges Chris has overcome. Maybe you’ll be inspired to try just a little harder, too.
That’s it for this one! L8R!!