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UFIT Employee Nominated for Prestigious Humanitarian Award

PHOTO: UF Health Shands Children's Hospital volunteer and UFIT employee Clifford Preston.

Every week for 26 years Cliff Preston enters UF Health Shands Children’s Hospital with his ears ahead of his eyes. Cliff is part of the baby cuddler program, which helps comfort NICU babies with human touch. As Cliff says, “I go in with my ears ahead of my eyes to find where I’m needed.”

Cliff, an IT Analyst with UFIT, has volunteered each week and on holidays since 1992. He is a 2018-19 nominee for the NASCAR Foundation’s Betty Jane France Humanitarian Award. Each NASCAR Foundation finalist is guaranteed a minimum $25,000 donation to their charity, with the winner’s charity receiving $100,000.

“When I go into the hospital, it’s a three-by-three world,” said Cliff. “I don’t care about outside circumstances. I just focus on helping one amazing human being, and it’s my universe.”

A lot has changed since Cliff began holding babies. He’s seen an increasing number of babies heal and get to go home because of improved research and technology. What hasn’t changed is that the crying, upset babies need attention for comfort. Balancing family, a full-time job, and volunteering, Cliff is grateful to work at UF and see little miracles during each shift at UF Health Shands Children’s Hospital. A huge NASCAR fan, Cliff said, “I never thought I’d be nominated, but it’s such an honor. And it gives me an opportunity to let people know about the hospital.”