Tate Clifford was a miracle baby who discovered growing up that gratitude can be accompanied by unexpected anxiety to be worthy.
Every Saturday morning, TED Recommends arrive on my inbox, with suggested talks for my liking. TED is all about ideas worth sharing. Saturday May 13, 2023 was different. That Saturday was a LIVE event hosted by TEDxUAlberta on the campus of NAIT in Edmonton. And most importantly I knew one of the speakers – Tate Clifford.
Tate is not one for platform speaking but his life story gave him a platform to inspire others.
He successfully applied to be one of eight speakers on May 13th. The timing was perfect. On the day before Mother’s Day he would talk about his mom’s choice that gave him a chance at life.
Tate and I “met” when he was one day old. He was in the NICU at the UAlberta Hospital, born eight weeks premature. His life started as a miracle.
A Loving Choice
A few months into her pregnancy Diana Clifford went for her regular check-up. Her doctor informed her and her husband Darryl that, in addition to the fetus, there was something else growing inside of her – a cancerous tumour.
Diana should undergo immediate chemotherapy, but that would threaten the life of her baby. To wait for treatment until after her delivery date would jeopardize her life. She was advised to abort her baby to save her own life. We prayed later in my office. Their decision was clear. Trust God, go to term, and believe for healing.
Diana started chemotherapy and radiation treatments following Tate’s birth. Everyone was pleased with the outcome. However, the cancer came roaring back three years later. Her oncologist advised Diana that treatments would be much worse on her than the cancer. And that’s when the next miracle came in. Read her story here.
A Public Platform
The Cliffords were a part of the congregation at Central and North Pointe (same section, same seats for 17 years). I watched Tate grow up. He excelled at baseball and cheered for the Toronto Blue Jays. Tate was a collegiate baseball athlete and is a UofA student taking a double degree in kinesiology and education.
What I didn’t know was the immense pressure Tate felt to live worthy of his miracle and his mom’s sacrifice.
On Saturday his mom and dad, grandparents, aunt, uncle, cousins, girlfriend, her mother, and Tate’s friends cheered him on. What he shared was new to the crowd but not to them. He had unpacked his feelings privately with them. But now he would be on a public platform.
A Proud Moment
The atrium of NAIT’s award-winning Productivity and Innovation Centre is a stunning work of architecture. Mayor Amarjeet Sohi opened the event by sharing his story of being a misfit growing up.
Tate was speaker #7. That comes with a pressure of it’s own. But he wore the moment well. Prepared, practised, and with a composure born of having a story needing to be heard.
I stood at the back of the atrium and watched the audience as we listened to Tate. Heads up. Leaning in. He had them with the story of his mom’s choice. Then he walked us through the unexpected anxiety of trying to live up to being a miracle. Of wanting to be approved by his mom for her sacrifice. Struggling with unworthiness. Stress and sleepless nights. He hid it well.
It takes gumption to speak in front of a crowd of strangers. Public speaking ranks just lower than the fear of death. But it takes guts to pull back the curtain on your personal struggles. Vulnerability is courage. And contagious. The theme, which inspired Tate to apply as a speaker, suited him to a T.
Have you felt like a misfit? Like you didn’t fit in? The miracle is in finding your worth.
If TEDxUAlberta posts the talks, Tate’s is worth hearing.
Please join the conversation and leave a comment for Tate and his family. Thank you.
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