COLLEYVILLE (CBSDFW.COM) – For a time, laughter chased away the tears as family and friends today remembered 17-year-old Chance Clifton.
Clifton was killed in a bizarre car crash in Oklahoma over the weekend, when dual wheels came off of a tractor trailer and slammed into the Jeep carrying Clifton and three other teens.
As visitors packed every pew and stood along the walls at Colleyville’s First Baptist Church, Clifton’s older sisters set the tone early, calling him “awesome” and saying it would be an “injustice to mourn, instead of celebrate” his life. So celebrate, is what they did.
Dad Greg Clifton joked about his knack for misplacing tools. “Saturday afternoon, after Tina and I made it back from Oklahoma, I found a pair of needle nose pliers and a screwdriver in the flower bed, right where Chance had left them,” said Clifton. “And I could hear him saying in his voice ‘I knew right where they were at!’”
“His humor was so natural,” recalled Phil Schaffer, a Birdville High School football coach who called Clifton “the most unselfish player” he’d ever coached. Schaffer also regaled the crowd with stories of Clifton’s call for satin boxers for the team and his appearance in a “disco pimp suit”—complete with a fake fur– when the football team had been told to “dress nicely” for a team TV appearance. “That was just Chance,” says Schaffer.
Tina Clifton, Chance’s Mom, had everyone laughing over her son’s insatiable sweet tooth and encouraged the crowd to live as her son did. “Go ahead and be outrageous… live big.”
The Cliftons also thanked the Colleyville and North Richland Hills communities for their outpouring of support since the fatal crash… calling it “movie material.”
But, as family and friends recalled the dancing, joking, funny-voice-making teen who left them too soon, the thing that seemed to provide the greatest comfort in their loss was their unwavering confidence that Chance knew Christ. And that same faith sustains them, now.
“Yes, we go through hard things,” said Emily Clifton, an older sister. “But, we also have hope that is a little bit unexplainable. When I got the call on Friday night, I had the weirdest calm in my heart, because I know where Chance is.”
“I can only imagine the day that my brother greets me at the gates of heaven,” says another sister Carly. “Though I long for that day, I find peace in that I will see his face.”
At the family’s request, Pastor Craig Etheredge during the service also issued an invitation for those in attendance to accept Christ.
“Your attendance here today validates his life,” said Tina Clifton. “But, the number one thing that you could do, if you haven’t received Christ is to do that, so that would validate his death.”
The celebration service ended with Pastor Etheredge asking the crowd to give the beloved teen a standing ovation for a “life well lived.”
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