By: Doyle Rader
Friends and family gathered on Tuesday, March 14, 2023, to watch Liz Clifton receive one of the highest honors the American Red Cross can bestow on an individual. In a ceremony in front of the City Council of Royse City, Texas, she accepted the American Red Cross Certificate of Extraordinary Personal Action for her quick response to help save a child’s life.
“I’m blown away — overwhelmed,” Clifton said after the presentation. “It's kind of unnerving a little bit because I didn't want this level of recognition. I was just trying to do the right thing, you know? But I'm definitely grateful for it.”
While shopping at Wal-Mart on December 7, 2022, Clifton heard a couple yelling in distress in a nearby aisle. Racing to their screams for help, Clifton found Brooke and Matthew Beddow trying desperately to dislodge a candy cane from their 14-month-old son Wilder’s throat.
Wasting no time, Clifton asked for Wilder. Holding him, she began giving him back blows and was able to clear the child’s airway, allowing him to begin breathing again.
“Ms. Liz was standing there, and my husband handed him to her,” Brooke said. “She delivered several blows to the back and got it out of there. He was blue and to the point right before unconsciousness.”
The Beddow family, including Wilder, attended the presentation to see Clifton honored. Red Cross North Texas Region CEO Dr. Linda Braddy presented Clifton with the prestigious award for her selflessness.
“The Certificate of Extraordinary Personal Action was created in the 1950s, and it is the second oldest of the Red Cross Lifesaving Awards,” Braddy said. “It is bestowed upon individuals who lack Red Cross training, but nonetheless step up during a time of an emergency to help save or sustain a life.”
Although she isn’t currently certified in basic lifesaving training like first aid and CPR, Clifton says that she was certified when she was a teenager. She’s thankful that she retained the information she learned during that training because it helped her step in and save Wilder’s life.
Heroes like Clifton are all around us, but they are not common. Because she was able to act quickly and decisively during an emergency, she showed a level of extraordinary courage that few exhibit.
“It hit me afterwards, after the adrenaline rush and everything, but all I could think was what if it was one of my kids?” Clifton said. “It actually helped boost my confidence, knowing in the future that I can perform those types of procedures and actually be effective. You hope you're never in those situations, and you question if you could step up. It's good to know that I can.”
The Red Cross offers a variety of in-person and online training and certification courses. Whether it’s helping family, friends, or your community, learning lifesaving skills will make a difference in an emergency.