Paging Dr. Morris
By Caitlin Davis, Senior Staff Writer
Jan 28, 2013, 12:55
photo by Caitlin Davis Dr. Cliff Morris’s friends and family suprised him with a birthday flash mob dance.
As Dr. Clifford Morris, owner of Morris Cardiovascular and Risk Reduction Center, walked through the sliding doors into the lobby of John Randolph Medical Center on Saturday afternoon, his jaw dropped and a smile spread across his face.
The song, “Goin’ In” by Jennifer Lopez started and a group of about 30 of Morris’ family and friends broke into a dance.
“I wanted to do something like this,” Fran Morris, Cliff Morris’s wife and organizer of his surprise 50th party, said. “He’s a pretty special guy, and so he deserved something really special.”
The flash mob dance idea came to Fran Morris’s mind after she saw something similar on television. The rest of the party came from there. Fran Morris, who had been planning the surprise for a year, said she was relieved her husband was surprised.
“I mean, I was making invitations right under his nose, and I thought for sure he had seen something and knew something, so I was really happy he was really surprised,” she said.
An hour after the dance, Cliff Morris still could not find the words to describe the surprise.
“It goes beyond anything I ever dreamed was happening,” he said. “I knew something weird was going on. People were acting really strange. I thought my mother was having a stroke or something because she kept saying things that didn’t make sense....and I mean this goes far beyond my wildest dreams. This was so perfect.”
His mother, Missouri Morris, who came all the way from North Carolina for the party was in good health, despite her son’s fears.
“My son was so shocked when he saw me,” Missouri Morris said. “It was almost like he was meeting a different person.”
Missouri Morris said she has always been hesitant to drive in inclement weather, something her son knew. Due to the snow that covered the area the day before, her son was sure he was not going to get to see his mother on his 50th birthday.
“It’s just been a pleasure to come to this great celebration,” Missouri Morris said. “The weather was so bad yesterday, I had feelings I might not be able to make it, but I also had feelings I had to make it.”
When the flash mob dance subsided, the party moved to the Beacon Theatre where a 1970s theme was established.
Cliff Morris remained shocked as he gave hugs to all his friends and family, including some who came from places as far away as California and Israel.
“I mean, to have so many people around you that mean so much,” Cliff Morris said, looking at the crowded room. “You know, I don’t know what to say. And, of course, Fran, and to do all this. She said she’s been planning this for over a year, and now to pull it off without me knowing...I knew something, but I didn’t know it all.”
Cliff Morris said he was happy the party was held in Hopewell, his home since 1996.
“And then to have it here in Hopewell, wow, and at John Randolph, and here at the Beacon,” Cliff said. “All these things these places mean so much to me. Hopewell has been so good to me, and to have it here just means everything. It just brings it all home.”
Cliff Morris himself has become a Hopewell landmark, much like the hospital and theater.
“You know what, Dr. Morris is such a gem and a treasure to have in the Tri-Cities and the John Randolph family, and this turnout today is just clear evidence of how loved he is,” Dia Nichols, CEO of John Randolph Medical Center, said. “...It’s just a magical evening and just fitting for a perfect 50th birthday, and I’m just excited to be a part of it.”
Cliff Morris said he does not feel 50. To him, it was just another year to accomplish more of his goals.
“You know, it just becomes an acceleration phase for me at this point as to how many other people I can try and bring to this level that I feel right now,” Cliff said. “I mean, that’s my goal to try and help others.”
His mother said she’s observed that attitude in her son throughout his life.
“He’s the youngest child in the family, and for him to turn 50 is just unbelievable,” Missouri said. “He’s always been a great person, just a great person. All the way through his early school years, through college, through all of his training he’s been very, very sensitive to the needs of other people.”
Most of Cliff Morris’s goals and dreams for the coming years don’t involve himself, but others.
“One of my dreams is to raise a million dollars for the kids of Hopewell, and I’m going to get that done,” he said. “I have a goal of doing a 50 mile marathon, and then taking the practice to new heights. We want to be the channel for the best way for people to live their grandest version of the greatest vision of who they are.”
And for Cliff, he shared what he has learned and the wisdom he has gained to get him to that time in his life.
“To go with the flow, just go with the flow, you know,” he said. “And to just make others happy, do things for other people, just like Fran had done this for me and everybody here. To me, this is just a celebration for us all to make each other happy and I just love everyone here.”
photo by Caitln Davis Cliff Morris shares a hug with a friend on his birthday.
Although the theme of the party was rooted in the past, with 70s music and friends and family sporting the hairdos, platforms and big shades popular at the time, Cliff Morris is already looking to the next year.
“I’m looking forward to taking a picture a year from now, when the main street project gets going and things start changing and the whole city starts waking up in a way that we’ve never seen before,” Cliff Morris said. “It’s going to be a wonderful place, a great community, an even greater community.”