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

This memoir, co-written by CaringBridge user Chris Norton and his wife, Emily, precedes a 2021 documentary titled, “7 Yards: The Chris Norton Story,” about how the couple’s lives changed in response to a spinal cord injury in 2010 that left Chris paralyzed from the neck down.

From their unique perspectives, Chris and Emily write about the multiple and lasting impacts of a college football tackle after which doctors gave Chris only a 3 percent chance to ever move again.

But against all odds, Chris walked, supported by Emily, the distance of 7 yards across a stage in 2015 to receive his diploma from Luther College in Decorah, Iowa. Video of Chris’ amazing walk has been viewed more than 300 million times on social media.

Emily and Chris went on to marry and became adoptive parents to five daughters after fostering a total of 18 children. Chris is now a motivational speaker, and in the book he reflects on how the power of community and a deep faith have made it possible to find healing and wholeness in a life that neither he nor Emily ever imagined.

“We’d be lying if we said there weren’t times during our long journey to our wedding day that we didn’t cry out to God and yell, ‘What are you doing? How could you let this happen to me?'” Chris and Emily write in Chapter 3. But they said God’s hand has been evident in every twist and turn of their lives, from Chris surviving a devastating injury and Emily learning to manage anxiety and depression to the joys and challenges of parenthood. The couple are also committed to the nonprofit Chris Norton Foundation that supports people with spinal cord and neuromuscular disabilities.

Chris said he remains grateful for CaringBridge a catalyst to begin sharing his story more widely. “It helped me find my purpose and hope during the worst period of my life,” he said.

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