2010-06-11 / Community

Cliffords Voted Family Of The Year

By Anne Marie Turner

Cynthia Clifford claims that she never won anything before in her life. So when she sent in a little essay to “Scholastic Parent & Child” magazine detailing why she and her family deserved to win the title Family of the Year, Clifford doubted that anything would ever come of it.

A month after she sent in her application, Cynthia received a phone call congratulating her on becoming a finalist for the contest. The editor wished to speak to her husband, Michael. The only problem was that Cynthia never told her husband she even applied.

“I never thought that we would actually win, so I just forgot to tell him about it!” she says.

Since that phone call, the Cliffords were named Family of the Year by “Scholastic Parent & Child” magazine sponsored by Milk. Their honor brought fame to the local family.

Today the Cliffords grace the cover of the magazine and rubbed shoulders with Elizabeth Hasselback, co-host of The View, and her husband, Tim Hasselback, ESPN analyst and former NFL quarterback, at the magazine’s launch party. The Rockaway family reports that, at the big event, the Hasselbacks greeted them as if they were all old friends.

“Tim and Elizabeth approached and recognized me. I was in shock that they knew who my family and I were,” Cynthia recalls. “Tim and Elizabeth were warm, welcoming, and so down to earth,” Cynthia went on to say.

The sudden fame is fun for the family, but it has not distracted them from their priorities. Scholastic voted the Cliffords Family of the Year because they recognized how deeply involved this family is with their community.

Where many people would see the title and article as a chance to promote themselves, Cynthia saw the article as an opportunity.

“I really wanted this article to help get the word out about the different causes that we are involved in,” she said. The Cliffords have actively participated in the Belle Harbor Beach Clean Up, Pathways for Peyton, and the Wounded Warrior Project.

The Cliffords take pride in their involvement with the Wounded Warriors Project. Last year they housed Iraq War veteran Manny Piña. The family became so close with Piña that less than two months later he returned to visit the Cliffords with his son Angel to introduce them to his family. Piña was also in attendance at the Scholastic event to show his support of the Cliffords.

The Scholastic company recognized the Cliffords’ dedication to the Wounded Warriors Project and donated $2500 in the Cliffords’ name to the project. The family, with Piña, hand delivered the check to Graybeard member, Flip Mullen.

The donation will help the Wounded Warriors greatly this year. With the rise in popularity of the program for soldiers, there is a dire need for more volunteers to help house the veterans for one weekend.

Involvement with the Wounded Warriors Project usually would be enough for one family to take on at once, but the Cliffords devote their time to “Pathways for Peyton” as well.

“Pathways for Peyton” is a charity in support of Spinal Muscular Atrophy. Peyton Tansey, son of Patrick and Jacqueline Tansey, is afflicted with SMA, and in his honor there will be a FUN Raiser for him and the disease. The “Pathways for Peyton” event is a beach volleyball family-oriented event at Riis Park on August 28. The event is all day and hopes to raise awareness and funds for research of the disease.

After all is said and done, the Cliffords are a normal family from Belle Harbor with a big heart. Even now with the magazine cover, and new famous friends, when asked what was one of the best parts of the Scholastic event, Cynthia raved that they received two Got Milk? coolers on wheels that are perfect for the beach.

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