Every single year on his birthday, a two-time former All-American diver named Chris Devries takes a fall off a diving board 10 feet off the ground and into a deep blue swimming pool.
For anyone else, this dive, taken in the Rochester Institute of Technology’s Judson Pool, seems like fun and games. But for Cliff, it’s a harrowing experience.
20 years ago, Cliff received a life-changing diagnosis. He had a brain tumor on the bottom of the brain.
Thankfully, he was able to undergo a surgery that saved his life in order to get rid of the tumor, but it left his body partially paralyzed.
The right side of his body was entirely unable to move. He was only 21 years old.
Cliff did slowly learn to walk once more. Using a cane to aid him, he started finding a way to take short little steps with his left foot, then swinging his right to the front to take a forward step.
As he moves, his torso is stiff, his shoulders slump over, and his arms dangle, all carried by the movement of his legs.
Unfortunately, his walking would always be labored.
This meant that Cliff could no longer perform his favorite activity.
Still, he did not want to let his disability get him down. So, in the year 2006, he decided to found an organization called Upstate New York Diving, which quickly became a famous and renowned diving program around the country.
He became a well-respected coach. Cliff worked hard, instructing students from the sidelines, but he found himself missing his time spent in the water very regularly.
Then, just 10 years ago, he decided to start a new tradition.
On his birthday, with assistance, he climbs slowly up the Judson Pool’s dive board ladder, walks cautiously the 3 meters between the ladder’s end and the end of the board, and then pushes himself off the edge to take a diving plunge into the water beneath.
He does all this despite the paralysis he has!
Although it started out as a quiet, personal mission, word began to spread of this unique, touching tradition.
Cliff soon became well-known and went viral on the Internet, especially after a video of his annual dive in 2017 surfaced online.
The video showed him up on the diving board, being aided by his fellow diver son, Corey, who helped to stabilize him as he wobbled and nearly lost his balance on the board.
His amazing dive touched hearts globally.
After that sensational 2017 dive, Cliff felt he wanted to top that amazing plunge.
So this year, he decided he would attempt a backwards dive – something he’d never imagined being brave enough to attempt after all these years and his paralysis.
He wasn’t sure if he could pull it off, but he decided to take the challenge head on.
The result? A video that proves you can truly do anything if you set your mind to it, even if you have to do it in a different day.
Check it out below!
Share away, people!