Alumna videographer inspires through hopeful stories of those defying great odds
It was a surprise encounter with another Baylor alumna that led Katie Norris (BSFCS ’08) to begin her nonprofit organization, Fotolanthropy, more than a decade ago.
Kara Wilkerson (BA ’05, MSEd ’10) had a son who had been diagnosed with a tumor, and in desperation, contacted Norris — and, in her words, “My world stopped.”
“She called me in tears and said, ‘You don’t know me, but someone said that you could help. My son has been diagnosed with a brain tumor, and I would love to have some photographs taken of him,’” Norris says. “We all hope to know our calling in life, and I received a literal call that forever changed my life. We served this hurting family, and that was the beginning of Fotolanthropy.”
The organization, founded in 2009, serves families through photography and film — celebrating stories of hope and those who have defied great odds. Norris’ team has shared 26 different inspiring stories, including two award-winning feature documentaries.
Fotolanthropy’s latest feature — 7 Yards: The Chris Norton Story — is about Chris Norton, who suffered a spinal cord injury during a college football game at age 18. Doctors told Norton he’d likely never walk again, but after years of rehabilitation and hard work he was able to walk across the stage at graduation. Seven years after his accident, Norton walked his wife seven yards down the aisle at their wedding.
The documentary was released Feb. 23 and is available for streaming on AppleTV, Amazon Prime Video and other streaming services. Since its release, the documentary has received some high praise from public figures across all walks of life.
- Tim Tebow, former NFL quarterback: “Chris Norton, a true inspiration and encouragement! Please check out his incredible story. It’s one on overcoming, and is so encouraging to me.”
- Terry Crews, actor and former NFL player: “My friend Chris Norton’s story of courage and perseverance is truly awe-inspiring.”
- Jay & Katherine Wolf, authors of Hope Heals and survivors of their own catastrophic accident: “This film embodies the type of good/hard story we need more of in this world. It’s beautifully shot and fast-paced, powerfully re-enacted and told by the actual people who lived it. Our whole family was moved to laughter, tears, and cheers!”
Norris has remained very connected to the Baylor Family throughout her career, often telling stories of Baylor alums. Her team at Fotolanthropy currently includes four Baylor alumni (and has included three more in the past 10 years). Norris was named Baylor’s Young Alumna of the Year for 2014, an honor given to a graduate age 40 or younger who has demonstrated remarkable achievement in the previous year.
“Baylor is such a one-of-a-kind community,” she says. “At Baylor, I was encouraged to pursue my calling, and friends and professors poured into me. I left with an instilled sense of purpose and a commitment to find and follow the unique path for my life.”
Sic ’em, Katie and Photolanthropy!