Cliff Devries, a former two-time All-American diver, was diagnosed with a brain tumor over 20 years ago. He underwent a lifesaving surgery that removed the tumor from the base of his brain but left the right side of his body paralyzed. No longer could he do what he did best.
In 2006, Cliff founded Upstate New York Diving, which has become one of the largest and most successful diving programs in the country. Though he continued instructing from the sidelines, he desperately missed being in the water.
But about 10 years ago, Cliff began an annual tradition. Every year on his birthday, he climbs the ladder at the Judson Pool at Rochester Institute of Technology, walks to the edge of the 3-meter diving board, and plunges into the pool — despite his paralysis. Over time, Cliff’s birthday dive has made him an online sensation.
Cliff’s son Corey, also a diver, stands on the board with his father, making sure he remains stable. Things can go terribly wrong, and during Cliff’s 2017 dive, there was a moment he lost balance and fell backward. Thankfully, Corey caught him, and the dive was a success.
Cliff wanted to top his 2017 dive and had always dreamed of doing a back dive. He didn’t think he was ambitious enough for the feat.
In the inspiring, powerful clip below, Cliff attempts what so many thought was the unthinkable.
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