We are so grateful for all who attended this special evening to honor Chris and Emily Norton and celebrate the release of 7 YARDS!
The evening began with a few shout-outs from Medi-Share and influencers like SSG Travis Mills and Mike Barwis followed by the trailer of the film surrounded by screens of those in attendance.
It was powerful to see a community literally surrounding our film, surrounding Chris and responding to his inspirational story.
Chris had the privilege to speak with and personally thank Brian Kalasek from Mutual of Omaha, who sponsored the evening. This was followed by a conversation with Joe Amodei, President of Virgil Films Entertainment, sharing why they chose to pick up 7 YARDS and help our team pitch to major distributors.
"It’s been a heck of a year. There’s a lot of reasons to bow our heads. There’s been a lot of reasons not to get out of bed....But when we see stories like yours, it gives us hope. It allows us to dream about a better day."
The Fotolanthropy 'dream team,' Katie Norris (producer), Jonathon Link (director), David White (cinematographer) and Ryan Wermich (assistant director), joined the screen with Chris to reflect on the film's beginnings. Katie shared a personal story and gave attendees an inside look into the circumstances that led her to pursue this film documentary journey with Chris and the team. Our filmmakers explained what kept them motivated during the long hours of shooting (besides energy drinks) and what scenes were the hardest to capture.
We then got to watch one of our favorite deleted scenes from the film and listen to Chris and his four college friends, Rich, Tanner, Del and Alex, reminisce on their college days. Fellow Luther Alum from On Path Financial, Dan Tressemer, joined the guys and talked about the sense of community and camaraderie their campus lent to the Norton Family during their tragedy.
Chris's family took the screen and gave us insight on what it was like to re-enact some of the worst days of their lives for the film. Ultimately, they enjoyed getting to spend so much time together and felt comfortable revisiting these moments with our amazing film crew.
Mike Barwis joined Chris and humbly attributed his intensity and hard-working nature to the heroes he serves like Chris Norton. We were very moved by his words, "You can’t do common things and expect uncommon results."
Our special guest, author and pastor Mark Batterson, joined us to encourage the Norton family, and shared that his favorite moment of the film was the infamous toe wiggle, a prank Chris pulled on his dad after "Dr. Phantom" told Chris he would never have use of his legs again.
Lisa Weier of FT Cares Foundation asked Emily a few questions on motherhood and balancing all that she does and Sponsor Gary Palmer of Anderson Family Farms asked the couple what was next (No more kids... for now).
The Norton kids then stole the show with a fun pop quiz video. Our favorite answer to the question, "What was the Dr.'s name who inspired Chris?" was Ariana's "Dr. Pepper."
The evening closed with a meaningful prayer led by Northwest Bible Church Pastor, Neil Tomba, and a standing ovation for Chris and Emily. Praying over the film and those whose lives would be impacted by his story, we couldn't have dreamed of a better way to end the night and ignite our audience to help us inspire the world with Chris's story.
Thank you again to all of our sponsors who made this film and special premiere night possible. This journey was truly a community effort and we can't wait to see how everyone's support and hard work makes an impact in bringing hope to the world!