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Hero on Wheels

After a tragic accident claimed his legs, Bob Norris became a...


Hero on Wheels

by Pam Hackett


Bob and Vickie Norris were anticipating their 12th wedding anniversary when tragedy struck and changed their lives forever. On August 21, 1980, not far from their South Carolina home, a drunk driver traveling the wrong direction on the interstate hit Bob’s 18-wheeler. The truck flipped seven times, pinning Bob under the wreckage and fuel tank. He could not feel his legs. Trained as an EMT and assistant fire chief, he knew the seriousness of his situation.

After a three-and-a-half-month stay in the hospital, rehabilitation, and recovery from a life-threatening staph infection, Bob returned home to his family as a paraplegic.


A Hero’s Faith

Sitting in his motorized wheelchair, Bob, a large man of 6’3”, now measured almost even with Vickie, a petite woman barely five feet tall. Eye to eye and equally committed, the couple decided not to let Bob’s handicaps keep them from doing what they wanted. Claiming the message of Psalm 31:23, 24, they determined that this trial would not hinder their family from faithfulness to the Lord and His house.

Bob, Vickie, and their two children, Sonya (9) and Brad (6), would face the unknown together. Vickie became the ultimate caregiver, and the children assumed responsibilities foreign to most at such a young age. They learned early in life to assist their father in the tasks he was unable to do. Vickie spent many days in rehab learning how to exercise Bob’s legs and take care of his physical needs.


A Hero’s Fight

Bob refused to allow himself a day of self-pity. In difficult times, he and Vickie found strength in Psalm 91:2: “I will say of the Lord, He is my refuge and my fortress: my God; in Him will I trust.”

For the next 30 years, Bob fought to live a normal life with his family. As their spiritual leader, he made sure his children attended church. The family’s unwavering faith in the Lord kept them assured of God’s blessings in store for them. They never gave up, and trusted Him to turn tragedy into something good for His glory.


A Hero’s Fame

Bob became everyone’s Hero on Wheels. His steadfast faithfulness to the Lord and his family made him hero to Vickie and the children. Others marveled at his wisdom and perseverance. His church family especially admired him and enjoyed his wit. Bob was not beyond racing in his wheelchair and popping wheelies in the church parking lot.

With highly developed upper-body strength, Bob could work as hard as any able-bodied man. For several years, he and Vickie served as kitchen coordinators at Fairview Free Will Baptist Church. They worked weekly, maintaining its large main kitchen and serving area and keeping shelves and cabinets stocked with needed items.


A Hero’s Finish

More than anything, the Hero on Wheels longed to meet His Savior, and he worked to ensure that his family would join him someday on the heavenly shore. He lived Paul’s words: “Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, whereunto thou art also called, and hast professed a good profession before many witnesses” (1 Timothy 6:12). Like his biblical example, Bob fought a good fight and finished well. When he died suddenly on July 6, 2010, the hero traded in his wheels for a heavenly crown.


A Hero’s Family

Bob Norris left behind a strong family of believers who continue his legacy of faith. Daughter Sonya and husband Brian Webb lead the youth at Fairview Church. They co-teach the college/career class and the Wednesday evening teen class, and direct the church’s Upward™ sports program. Sonya sings in the choir and in the church’s praise team. Brian’s vision for the world led him on a mission trip to China. Together, they seek to instill faith and the family’s heart for God in their sons, Ethan and Jacob.

Son Brad, wife Holly and children Kalyn and Landon also faithfully serve the Lord at Fairview, where Brad and Holly co-teach an adult Sunday School class. Holly sings in the praise team and choir, and they both assist with the Upwardtm program. The couple heads up Fairview’s annual community Thanksgiving Day meal, which last year fed 645 people. Along with the meal, their Sunday School class sponsors a Santa shop, providing clothes and toys (donated by the congregation) for families in the community.

While his hero dad was still alive, Brad endured surgery and treatment for colon cancer. He depended on his dad’s great strength as he fought his own battle for life. During 30 years of caregiving, Vickie Norris also faced health challenges, battling a recurring kidney disease as well as colon cancer. Both she and Brad now volunteer at the cancer center in their local hospital.

Despite continuing health difficulties, Vickie remains a faithful member of Fairview. She serves as assistant teacher of four-and five-year-olds on Wednesday evenings and participates in Young at Heart (senior saints) ministries. Active in Fairview Women Active for Christ, Vickie enjoys the fellowship, care, and prayerful support this group provides.

Besides her children and grandchildren, Vickie treasures Bob’s Bible. Filled with verses he underscored and notes he penned with his personal perspective on wisdom, this Book that guided her husband’s journey, offers guidance for her future path. As she turns to God’s Word, she is reminded how much the Hero on Wheels loved his Lord, his wife, his family, his friends, and his church. 


About the Writer: Pam Hackett is a member at large of the WNAC Executive Committee. An educator and an artist, she serves alongside her husband Tim, pastor of Fairview FWB Church, Spartanburg, SC. Learn more about WNAC at



©2011 ONE Magazine, National Association of Free Will Baptists