UF Health Shand's volunteer cuddler is now recognized by NASCAR


    “The key to calming a baby is to be calm,” says

    Cliff Parsons knows a thing or two about babies—he’s a volunteer cuddler.

    “It’s just a magical feeling when I can sit there and calm a baby,” says Parsons. “I’m blessed to do what I do.”

    Parsons full-time job is an IT analyst for the University of Florida—but once a week, he goes to the NICU in UF Health Shand’s Hospital, where he has been holding babies for 26 years.

    Being the youngest of seven children—he says these babies have given him a different perspective.

    “I think it’s good for me because it gets me out of my self, and being the youngest of seven, I was probably not the most other-oriented person in the world, probably a little selfish, a little self involved,” says Parsons.

    He says he has probably held more than 1,000 babies throughout the years, all with their own personalities and ways to feel comforted.

    “I hold them in my arms, on my chest, sometimes in my lap, singing to them, not singing to them, talking to them, maybe not talking to them, and changing my voice,” says Parsons.

    But now, that voice is not only for the baby, but for the whole country.Parsons was nominated by the hospital to compete in NASCAR Betty Jane France Humanitarian Award where volunteers across the county share their story.

    And Parsons, was chosen to be a finalist.

    I’m very humbled more than anything, but also very proud to be a face of UF Shand’s Children’s Hospital”

    The four finalists already received $25,000 to donate to the organization they represent—but the winner's charity receives a total of $100,000.

    Now—it’s up to the public to vote

    Parsons says the fame is nice, but really, he’s just there for the babies.

    “When I’m holding a baby, it’s all about the baby , I don’t think about workIt’s just me and that baby,” says Parsons.

    To vote, click here for the NASCAR Foundation website.

    You have until November 19th to vote, and the winner will be announced on November 29th.

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