C.A.N. Do Anything


On October 16, 2010, Chris Norton, a freshman at Luther College in Decorah, Iowa, was playing in a varsity football game when a special teams play left him with a fractured neck and compressed spinal cord. The incident resulted in him having no feeling below the area. After surgery, the physicians at Mayo Clinic informed him of his grim prognosis: Chris was expected to have a mere 3 percent chance of regaining movement below the injury site. Three months later, after weeks of intensive therapy and Chris’ sheer determination to walk again, he has overcome the odds and now has partial mobility in all four limbs. Each day yields promising results, as he continues to improve and rebuild his strength.

Backed by a powerful, compassionate network of family, friends and even strangers, Chris has gained not only regional but national attention as well. He has been mentioned on ESPN and has received an outpouring of support from college and professional-level coaches and athletes around the country. His story is an inspiration to many, and the acronym of Chris’ initials—C.A.N.—has served as a reminder to those around him that this young man certainly can do anything.

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10 Responses to “C.A.N. Do Anything”

  1. Roxanne Thomas Says:

    Your story is amazing! Your motivation, determination, attitude, and care for others is an inspiration to all who read about your journey. My daughter was a 2004 graduate of Luther College, Decorah, Iowa. Be strong, you C.A.N. do it! May His light shine upon you. “A Journey of a Thousand Miles, begins with a Single Step.”

  2. Wally & Marian Mortenson Says:

    Hi Chris,
    Ryan Vinzant is our grandson. We were at the Luther College home game the day you were injured. Deanna has kept us informed step by step of your progress–what a miracle, to be sure! Wally prays for you every morning; our prayer team at church has also continued to pray for your recovery. You are such an example of courage and faith, and no wonder with such a wonderful family and friends surrounding you during this difficult time. We expect to see you make an appearance on the field next year!

    Wally & Marian

  3. Lindsey Gierhan Says:

    im a freshman at bondurant-farrar and u probably have no clue who i am but you may know my brother cale and i would just like to say how very proud of u we r that ur progress is continuing to grow its amazing how much inspiration you are to so many people! youve been in our prayers every since the accident occured and were very thankful that ur doing okay… we hope ur progress continues to grow and impress everyone good luck with ur pt and ot

    always in our prayers,
    lindsey gierhan

  4. John & Carla Clement Says:

    We are and have been praying for you. The Lord is doing great works in you. With the Lord’s love and prayers. Carla and John

  5. Julie Says:

    Chris – I’ve been following your story since the accident. It says in this Mayo article that your story is known regionally and nationally. I am a 1989 Luther College grad living and teaching in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Please know your story has made an impact at our school in Malaysia and that your story is known here. Keep up your fight! Keep up your amazing attitude! Good luck and take care! Julie (Fritz) Munro, Luther College 1985-1989

  6. Linda Hageman, RN Says:

    you are a true inspiration and leader for Mayo Clinic. So many of us share in your passion about the work done at Mayo Clinic. Please know that many of us around you cheering you on.

  7. Marisa Nelson Says:

    Chris, I had tears and goosebumps watching your video. AMAZING! I know also first hand the Mayo PT and OT therapists in rehab. The improvements you have everyday they will continue to cheer you on! They were so supportive and so optimistic and they all help you keep your confidence up and that glow to shine and show the world that you have overcome many obstacles. God is with you every step of the way. I am a volunteer horseback riding instructor with RideAbility. We serve children, adults with disabilities and their families. I was back riding with a paraplegic student and our horse was not ready but the hoyer lift used to mount the student on the horse, spooked her. We both went flying off the back of the horse, my legs flew up over my head in a jack knife position and I coushioned the fall of the student as she landed on top of my legs crushing my body. I am only 5ft tall and 95lbs. The impact fractured my T12 and 13 and I had head injury but was wearing a helmet. I was also in ICU and then up to rehab at mayo and was there for just under a month. I couldnt feel my legs down for awhile and adjusting to my chair was crazy. I have 5 children at home to take care of too. I was told I would walk again but the question was when, I was suppose to be in a chair estimated 2 years but a walker the rest of my life. With God, Determination, support of from my kids and my church…I was back on a horse and walking unassisted 2 months later. Believe in Miracles! The Mayo rehab team were AMAZING! I will never forget them!
    God Bless You Chris and you are in my prayers!
    Marisa A. Nelson

  8. kit Hellmann Says:

    I take care of my twin brother,Ken. He became a quadraplegic 27 yrs. ago during a diving accident. He’s an incomplete. I didn’t hear you mention if you were incomplete or not but I’m guessing with the movement you have ,you probably are also.Consider yourself lucky and blessed at the same time. that might seem strange but you are so fortunate to have the movement you have so soon. Keep the faith and NEVER give up!Keep in shape with your therapy.No matter how much you might dislike it.It’s making a stronger you. If you ever want to talk feel free any time. God Bless….Go Steelers!

  9. Nancy Eller Edwards Says:

    Wow , Miracles do happen!!!

  10. Allison Says:

    Chris, thank you for being such an inspiration for all of us. May only good things continue to come your way.

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