Deidre Downs is a 22-year-old college graduate whose future plan includes medical school and a career as a pediatric oncologist. She was recently named as a Rhodes Scholar finalist. However, her commitment to community service is her most outstanding achievement.
In 2000, Downs founded an organization entitled Making Miracles. The mission of Making Miracles is to provide services to pediatric cancer patients and their families. The program enables student volunteers from various high schools and colleges in the Birmingham, Alabama area to engage in direct volunteer service with children who have cancer.
During the 2000-2001 school year, Making Miracles volunteers worked one-on-one with pediatric cancer patients at Children’s Hospital and held a Rock-a-Thon to raise funds for pediatric cancer research. The following year they planned and directed activities for patients at Hope Lodge, a residence facility for patients undergoing cancer treatments. In addition to the work with her volunteers, Downs mentors a teenage cancer survivor and serves on the American Cancer Society’s Junior Board of Directors in Birmingham.
In August 2002, Downs began her current project, a specialty license plate for the state of Alabama. The proceeds of this plate will go directly to pediatric cancer research. Teaming up with Dr. Robert Castleberry, head of pediatric oncology at UAB/Children’s Hospital in Birmingham, Downs designed the tag and has begun implementation of this project. The Legislative Oversight Committee for License Plates has submitted the license plate to the Alabama Department of Motor Vehicles for approval. Upon its approval, Downs will be promoting this license plate across the state of Alabama through public speaking engagements, public service announcements, media coverage, and mailings.
Time is of the essence for Downs and the success of her license plate project. She has only a year’s time to secure at least 1,000 purchase commitments, in order to ensure that the plate is mass-produced. In its initial commitment year, this license plate has the potential to raise a minimum of $41,000 for research, with the extended potential of hundreds of thousands in the future. More information about Downs’ license plate and her efforts to help find a cure for pediatric cancer can be found on her Web site at www.curingchildhoodcancer.org
Downs is dedicated to children and to pediatric cancer research, which is evident in her community service efforts as well as her career choice of pediatric oncology. Through Making Miracles, Deidre Downs has provided services to families suffering with sick children and she is in the process of mobilizing a community and statewide effort to support pediatric cancer research.