Texans of the year: Gena and Chuck Norris

Variety is honored to award our 2017 “Texans of the Year” Award to Gena and Chuck Norris. Their commitment to empowering the lives of children in Texas demonstrates the attributes of a true Texan:  courage, integrity, and perseverance.

Chuck Norris is an international television and film star and has starred in 24 motion pictures such as Delta Force, Code of Silence and Missing in Action, with his latest film role in Expendables 2.  His television series “Walker, Texas Ranger”, ran for 81/2 years. With 203 episodes, is the most successful Saturday night series on CBS since “Gunsmoke”.  Internationally, it is seen in more than 80 countries worldwide with an average of 1 billion viewers daily.

Norris first made his mark as a renowned teacher of martial arts and was a six-time undefeated World Professional Middle Weight Karate Champion.  He is the first man from the Western Hemisphere in the over 4,500 year tradition of Tae Kwon Do to be awarded an eight degree Black Belt Grand Master ranking.   By the 1970’s he had revolutionized Martial Arts in the U.S. and created his own system called, The Chuck Norris System" and is the Founder and Chairman of the United Fighting Arts Federation.

Chuck Norris is also a New York Times bestselling author of several books.  They include Black Belt Patriotism: How to Reawaken America, and the 2004 autobiographical Against All Odds. Norris has also penned two works of fiction, “The Justice Riders” and “A Threat to Justice.”  In 2006, he added “columnist” to his list of a very popular public speaker, he has served as spokesperson for agencies such as The United Way and The Veterans Administration.  Norris, an Air Force veteran, was named an Honorary Member of the Marine Corps in 2007, which was an incredible honor demonstrating the appreciation the Corps felt for his two “hand shake” tours of Iraq within a one year period. // Credits with the launch of his popular internet column on the independent news site WorldNetDaily.com. 

Modeling a life of health and fitness for more than 5 decades, Norris has promoted the importance of exercise by his endorsement of the Total Gym, a popular exercise machine that is sold internationally in more than 80 countries. In 2010 Chuck launched a syndicated weekly health and fitness column called C-Force to help inspire and improve the health and fitness of his readers by taking a holistic view of health-that wellness is obtained and maintained by treating ourselves as an integrated whole, in mind, body and spirit.

A genuine internet phenomenon, Norris has become the subject of countless Paul Bunyan-type fictional “facts” of his exploits, submitted by fans.  There are currently more than a million such “facts” floating around the internet.  In November of 2009, he came out with The Official Chuck Norris Fact Book, focusing on 101 of his favorite facts and stories.

Standing beside him in life, is his wonderful wife, Gena.  Gena spends countless hours devoted to the causes she believes in.   Among the causes Gena is most passionate about is the movement to bring the Bible back to the public-school system. To advance this cause, Gena and Chuck became supporters of the National Council on Bible Curriculum in Public Schools where they serve as National Board Members and spokespersons, raising awareness by appearing in public service announcements.

Among the other organizations to which she lends her leadership and support is the Dallas-based Council for Life, on which she serves on the Advisory Board and the Christian Film and Television Commission where she serves on the organization’s Board of Reference.  She has also served as spokesperson for United Cerebral Palsy of Dallas, where she is a former President of its Women’s Guild, and supports the Dallas Pregnancy Resource Center.  She strongly supports the mission of Darrell and Sandy Scott, through Rachel’s Challenge promoting acts of kindness and serves as a National Board Member.

Like Chuck, Gena is a fitness advocate and has commercially endorsed the Total Gym, alongside her husband, for the past 20 years. Gena's most recent accomplishment is starting CForce Bottling Company in Texas. As owner and CEO, CForce is a premium natural artesian water that is bottled at the source right on their Texas ranch and is currently sold in 12 states nationwide. Its purpose is not only to provide a great tasting water to the public at a great price, but to provide jobs and help boost the local economy. While working toward establishing a legacy for the Norris family, their KSK Foundation will receive a portion of the sales.

As a former Correctional Corporal and Reserve Deputy Sheriff in Northern California earlier in her life, Gena is no stranger to the many challenges faced by law enforcement every day, and of the need to help young people stay on the right path.

Working together towards this goal, Chuck and Gena Norris have accomplished something truly remarkable and honorable – saving the lives of untold numbers of at-risk kids in our community through their family foundation, KICKSTART KIDS.

Established right here in Houston in 1992 with the help and support of Chuck and Gena's longtime friend, President George H.W. Bush, this program which is taught in the Texas public school system, utilizes the martial arts as a tool in building strong moral character and in instilling a sense of positive direction within kids in need. What started in Houston in 1992 with 600 students has now grown to more than 10,000 students in over 60 middle schools and one high school throughout Texas. With the committed and dedicated efforts of more than 80 instructors and staff, and through their leadership as Chairman and Executive Chairman, respectively, KICKSTART KIDS has graduated well over 95,000 students from its program since its inception.

Next to their family, KICKSTART KIDS is the one endeavor that very much remains the couple’s primary mission, with the goal of expanding the program all over Texas and then the country.

And, most importantly, Chuck and Gena are the devoted parents of seven children, and 13 wonderful grandchildren. The Norris’s live on their ranch near Houston with their fifteen-year-old twins, Dakota and Danilee.