While working a summer job, Cliff jack-hammered through three buried high-voltage lines and was hit with 30,000 volts.
The accident burned off two toes, dislodged the back of his skull and fused his knee joints, shoulder and back. He experienced cardiac arrest three different times, and doctors recommended amputation of Cliff's legs.
Cliff found a doctor who was able to repair his legs. Fifteen surgeries later, doctors told him that he would never walk again. Cliff took that statement as a challenge. He began a regimen of weight-lifting, swimming and outrigger canoe paddling. His coach had to carry him to the canoe. After almost four years of determination, Cliff was able to walk again. He didn't stop there.
In 1993, Cliff was able to qualify for the U.S. Kayak Nationals. Two years later, at the Denver Olympic Festival, Cliff won gold, silver and bronze medals. In 1996, he made the U.S. Olympic Team.
Cliff also qualified for the 2000 Sydney Olympics. Two days before the Opening Ceremonies, he learned that he had been chosen as the one to carry the flag into the stadium. It is one of the highest honors for an American athlete.
Submitted by Anonymous
We've all had people in our lives who have made a positive impact on us. A parent or grandparent, a sibling who was there for us, or maybe even just a guy who shines shoes for a living? Whoever they are, tell us their story so they can inspire us even more.Tell Us Your Story All Everyday Hero Stories