Hope is a Verb | Business with Purpose Podcast EP 238: Amy Downs, Author & Survivor of the Oklahoma City Bombing
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We are going to face tragedy in our lives. It’s a guarantee. It seems unfair and we have questions about why bad things happen. But as a person of faith, I know what Jesus said – in this world we will have trouble, but take heart because he has overcome the world. We don’t have to let tragedy define us.
My guest today took an unimaginable, world-shattering tragedy and used it for good. Amy Downs is the CEO of Allegiance Credit Union, formerly known as the Federal Employees Credit Union, which lost more than half of its employees in the Oklahoma City Bombing in 1995.
In the years since the bombing, Amy became a mother, lost more than 200 pounds, competed in an Ironman Triathlon, got her MBA and became CEO of the same credit union that was bombed.
4:17 – Amy Downs 101
- Amy is 53 years old. She has a side hustle as a book writer and speaker. She loves riding her bike and adventure.
- Surviving the Oklahoma City Bombing changed her life in a lot of ways.
6:20 – Big hair and lack of purpose
- In 1989, Amy had big, amazing hair. She says it was the only thing she had going for her at the time. She dropped out of college and was floundering, not knowing what to do with her life.
- She took a job as a teller at the credit union in Oklahoma City.
9:35 – April 19, 1995
- On April 19, 1995, Amy was sitting at her desk on the third floor when the bomb went off.
- She was screaming “Jesus help me!” but she didn’t recognize the sound of her own voice. She fell three floors and was buried under 10 feet of rubble. Then, all the noise stopped.
- She was lying there, not knowing if she was dead or alive.
14:40 – Buried alive
- “I’m buried alive,” said Amy. “All I can do is think about, I’m getting ready to die at 28 years old, and I’m realizing, I’ve actually never lived. I’ve never lived with purpose.”
- She was buried for more than 6 hours.
19:57 – Desperate to live
- Amy’s rescuers talked about whether they needed to amputate her leg to get her out of the rubble. She told them to do what they needed to do to get her out. She was desperate to live.
- She remembers looking up at the sky, taking a breath of fresh air after being rescued.
25:15 – Changing her life
- She wanted to be a different person, but she had so much physical and emotional trauma that she didn’t know what to do. But she didn’t let go of that belief.
- First, she began praying every day.
34:19 – Hope is a Verb
- Amy wrote a book, “Hope is a Verb.” It was a 10-year project. She wanted to figure out how to help people.
41:43 – Coping with PTSD
- Amy still struggles with PTSD. She gets nervous if she’s in a crowded space with a lot of people. She also struggles when April comes around each year.
50:20 – Get to know you
- What kids’ movie scarred her? Wizard of Oz monkeys
- Something you’d never guess about her? She was a DJ on a radio station
“It was like I had this incredible come to Jesus meeting that I haven’t been able to shake for the rest of my life.” – Amy
“There is a purpose for you. I don’t care what it is, what business it is that you’re doing. There is a purpose for you.” – Amy
“All of a sudden, everything went dark. I could hear people screaming all around me.” – Amy
“I’m buried alive … All I can do is think about, I’m getting ready to die at 28 years old, and I’m realizing, I’ve actually never lived. I’ve never lived with purpose.” – Amy
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