Amy Downs was a self-described lazy, college dropout. On April 19, 1995, she was working as a credit card loan officer at the Federal Employees Credit Union located in the Alfred P Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City when she found herself buried alive, upside down, in the basement of a nine-story building. With 168 people killed and more than half of her colleagues dying from the deadliest act of domestic violence in American history, Downs was one of the last people to be pulled out of the rubble alive.
“As I hung upside down in the aftermath of the bombing, with no idea what had happened, or any faith that I would emerge alive, I confessed to God that I had not done with my life what I could have done with it,” writes Downs. “I told Him that if I lived, I would change my life, and I would live my life to the fullest, with a purpose. No more excuses.”
Downs was pulled from the rubble six hours after the bombing took place. She is not a miracle because she survived the bombing. Rather, the transformation that took place in her life after the bombing is her miracle story. Twenty-five years later, Downs is anything but lazy – in fact, she’s the CEO of the exact same credit union that crumbled to the ground in 1995. She shares her story in her new book, Hope Is a Verb: My Journey of Impossible Transformation.
Downs became a mom, went back to college, obtained her MBA, lost 200 pounds, and became an Ironman at the age of 50. It was not an overnight transformation – it was the result of hard work, determination, and a near-death scenario that prompted massive change. In the book, she draws parallels between the mental and physical strategies she had to employ to compete in the Ironman Triathlon and the same hard work that she spent working on herself in the 20 years following the bombing, which preceded the competition.