With Toad Suck Daze approaching, and the accompanying Toad Suck Daze runs, it’s a good opportunity to highlight Cliff Henry in my series about good guys.
Cliff grew up in Conway and is an attorney who has the privilege of practicing law with his father, Bob, in downtown Conway.
Cliff graduated from Conway High in 1977, where he played football, basketball and golf. He was a junior on that 1976 Wampus Cat basketball team that went 36-0 and won the state Overall title. Cliff will be the first to tell you he mostly watched from the bench, but he had a pretty good seat to witness one of the best high school teams in state history.
After his freshman year at the University of Arkansas, Cliff decided to walk on for the football team. He lettered his final three seasons, 1979-1981, and won the Crip Hall Award for the outstanding senior in the homecoming game.
Cliff’s grandfather, Clifford Blackburn, was also a Razorback. He was an All-SWC end in 1924 and also played on the school’s very first basketball team in 1923-24.
Following his father, Cliff’s son Joseph, walked on at the U of A before earning a scholarship and lettering in 2009.
I have gotten to know Cliff through the Kiwanis Club of Conway. When I called to ask some questions for this article, Cliff did exactly what I knew he would humbly do: He mentioned someone else that I should write about instead.
A lot of work goes into pulling off an annual race that brings in so many participants, and countless volunteers have helped over the years. The planning is almost a yearlong process.
It is a running Kiwanian joke that at our weekly Wednesday luncheons, during the announcements, Cliff will almost always get up with some news about the race. We playfully groan when he stands up, but we genuinely applaud his dedication.
Cliff’s dedication traces back to his childhood. Cliff grew up a couple houses down from his friend, Randy Baker. They attended Sallie Cone Elementary.
Randy went to work at First National Bank, and when he passed away in his early twenties, the bank started a race in his honor. The bank and the Kiwanis decided to combine their races in 1986 and the Toad Suck runs are still held in memory of Cliff’s friend, Randy.
The race is one of the largest and most successful in the state, and after this weekend over $400,000 will have been raised for local non-profits over the past 34 years.
The Toad Suck race is one of those many great events in Conway that people erroneously think "just happen." But I can promise it takes a lot of work by a lot of people. And I can promise no one works harder on it than Cliff Henry.