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Inaugural Chris Norton Wheelchair Camp going on this week

NEAR STEWARTVILLE, Minn. (FOX 47) – Ironwood Springs Christian Ranch near Stewartville is hosting its first ever Chris Norton Wheelchair Camp.

About 25 kids and their families are taking advantage of the four day opportunity, started by an athlete from our region.

The first ever Chris Norton Wheelchair Camp has kids and their families smiling and having a good time.

The camp is dedicated to helping people with spinal cord and neuromuscular disabilities by providing opportunities that would not otherwise exist.

Campers and their siblings playing basketball at the Chris Norton Wheelchair Camp Tuesday.

“I really like it,” said camper Trenton Bass. “There’s a lot of people in your same situation. It’s nice to get out and kind of enjoy sports and all kinds of activities with them.”

What sets this wheelchair camp apart from others is parents and siblings are also participating in all the fun.

“I find it very important that my older able-bodied kids recognize the challenges that kids who have spina bifida or other impairments,” said Traci Buehler, a camper’s mother. “Their younger brother has a spinal cord injury. I just find it important that they realize the challenges they face versus the challenges they don’t have to face right now.”

This camp was started by someone experiencing the same challenges, a former football player paralyzed in an on-field injury nearly a decade ago.

Chris Norton talks about the first ever Chris Norton Wheelchair Camp.

“We started the foundation in mind to help provide grants to facilities so that people can gain access to the best recovery technology and equipment,” said Chris Norton, Founder of Chris Norton Foundation.

In addition to the camp itself, Norton’s foundation provides scholarships for kids to attend this camp for free. He says he was actually inspired to create his own wheelchair camp after attending a different wheelchair camp, also held at Ironwood Springs Christian Ranch.

“I just saw all the life changing moments with the campers, with the families, and just felt like this could be a great opportunity for more people to gain access to,” said Norton.

Norton was playing football for Decorah’s Luther College when he was injured in 2010. At the time, he was given just a three percent chance of regaining any mobility below his neck. Since then he’s beaten those odds.

Sarah Gannon

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