JOPLIN, Mo. -- Will Norton was a young video whiz kid. His YouTube channel of whimsical, funny videos of life as a small town teen has nearly 12,000 subscribers. His videos have been viewed millions of times world wide. He was preparing to turn that hobby into a career, and had been accepted to a Los Angeles film school after graduation.
But his graduation that May 22, 2011 would mark the end of his dream. On his way home to a graduation party, Will and his dad Mark were caught in the Joplin tornado. Dad survived. Will's body was found four days later.
"We hoped and prayed he'd be found," his father remembers. "Of course the longer they were looking for him as the days went on, I guess our, I think back in the back of your mind you know it's probably not good."
But now, good is coming from the Norton family's loss, in the form of a new website dedicated to Will's memory.
Inspired by a wall in Will's bedroom dubbed, The Will Wall. It featured a game ball, and family friend and former Kansas City Chief Kendall Gammon's number 83 painted graffiti style. The game ball was one of two Kendall gave Will and his sister Sara, when the family joined their former Joplin neighbor on the sidelines of a Chief's game when Will was about 12. Kendall lived in Joplin when his NFL career started in New Orleans, eventually moving to Kansas City when he was traded to the Chiefs.
Kendall saw the wall for the first time after Will's death, having no idea his gesture had meant so much to the young boy.
"Oh I started crying," he recalls of seeing it that day, just a few weeks after Will's death in the tornado. "I mean, what are you going to do. I had no idea."
But a few months later, Kendall realized that message of gratitude on Will's bedroom wall could be shared by others, via a virtual Will's Wall.
When he approached Will's mom Trish, and dad Mark, they embraced the idea of allowing people to post videos of gratitude to someone special in their life and share it via the wall and social media.
"He was a grateful type kid," Mark remembers about his son. "He never let an opportunity go by that he didn't thank someone for doing something."
So Kendall and the family worked to develop the concept, and on the 5th anniversary of that horrible and deadly night, The Will Wall launched, and is ready for users to upload "game ball videos of gratitude."
"It's just an honor that now, Will can be a part of that. Even though he's not physically here with us on earth."
The upload your own videos, visit The Will Wall.
To see Will's video's, visit his YouTube Channel.