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Oklahoma City Bombing Survivor Amy Downs (ep. 558)

Amy Downs

John O’Leary welcomes Oklahoma City Bombing survivor Amy Downs on the Live Inspired Podcast on embracing her second chance.

On April 19, 1995, Amy Downs was working as a teller for the Federal Employees Credit Union located in the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building when her life changed instantly. A loud boom erupted, and darkness enveloped her as she went into a three-story freefall. Finding herself entombed in concrete, she begged God to give her another chance.

More than six hours later, Amy was one of the last survivors to be pulled from the rubble following the deadliest domestic terror attack in our nation’s history which killed 168 people including 18 of her 33 co-workers.

Embracing her second chance, Amy embarked on a transformation from victim to champion in her work, education, health, spirit, and love. Once someone who couldn’t pass her college math class and weighing over 355 pounds, Amy’s journey of self-improvement empowered her to earn an MBA and complete a full Ironman Triathlon. Today, Amy serves as the president and CEO of the same credit union where she worked on that fateful day.

Join us as Amy shares about living with survivor’s guilt and overcoming trauma. And she’ll remind us that hope is a verb we can enact today to transform our lives into the future of our dreams.

If you’re looking for a wake-up call to live a purposeful life and achieve your wildest dreams, this conversation is for you.

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  • Growing up in Louisiana with 5 siblings, Amy struggled with school until she flunked out of college because she couldn’t pass the remedial math class.
  • At first Amy struggled to fit in at her job at the credit union in the Murrah Federal Building until she built a community of support and was promoted off the teller line.
  • April 19, 1995: On a calm morning under a gorgeous blue sky, a rental truck filled with explosives was denotated in the parking lot of the Murrah Federal Building. The blast killed at least 168 people, injured more than 680 others and damaged hundreds of buildings in a 16-mile radius.
  • After falling three floors Amy was buried under ten feet of rubble for 45 minutes before rescuers located her. Believing another bomb was imminent, rescuers were forced to retreat leaving Amy in fear and with an intense feeling of regret for not having lived her life to the fullest.
  • I’m getting ready to die and I’ve actually never really lived.”
  • The only part of scripture Amy was able to recite was Psalms 23-4: Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death.
  • Still unaware of her injuries or how her friends were, Amy vowed to live her life differently.
  • Weighing 355 pounds, Amy was protected during the fall from her still-attached chair, although her leg was opened during the blast, her bone was spared.
  • While recovering in the hospital, Amy learned that 18 of her 33 coworkers perished and she was asked to recall what clothing they wore to identify their bodies.
  • “The injuries weren’t the hardest part. It was dealing with so much death.”
  • Twenty-eight years later, Amy still suffers from “survivor’s guilt” and strives to live for those who weren’t able to live for themselves.
  • After rebuilding the credit union’s business model, Amy gained the confidence to tackle challenges in her personal life including earning an MBA, losing weight and finishing an Ironman.
  • “Hope is the belief that your future can be better and brighter than your past and that you actually have a role to play in making that happen.”  – Casey Gwinn, Hope Rising
  • At 50 years old, Amy decided to compete in an Ironman. While training for the 2.5-mile swim and unable to see in the murky water, Amy confronted her PTSD from the bombing.
  • Learn more about the Oklahoma City National Memorial here.
  • Get a copy of Amy Downs’ book Hope is Verb here.

Did you enjoy today’s conversation?

Hear my conversation with Rebekah Gregory. Just feet away from 2013’s Boston Marathon explosion, Rebekah Gregory was severely injured and spent the next 56 days in the hospital. Refusing to be labeled a victim, Rebekah shares the challenges she’s overcome since that life-changing moment and how in the midst of overwhelming pain, there is still hope to be found on the other side of tragedy. Listen to Rebekah Gregory on ep. 262.


About our sponsor: Keeley Companies wholeheartedly believes that if you get the people right -the results will follow. They set themselves apart with a forward-thinking culture that empowers their people and fosters loyal partnerships. Keeley Companies are a proud sponsor, partner, and super fan of the Live Inspired Podcast. Learn more about Keeley Companies.


  1. Q. What is the best book you’ve ever read?

    The Power of Change by Craig Groeschel

    [Listen to Craig Groeschel on Live Inspired Podcast ep. 556 here.]

  2. Q. What is a characteristic or trait that you possessed as a child that you wish you still exhibited today?


  3. Q. Your house is on fire, all living things and people are out. You have the opportunity to run in and grab one item. What would it be?

    A photo album.

  4. Q. You are sitting on a bench overlooking a gorgeous beach. You have the opportunity to have a long conversation with anyone living or dead. Who would it be?

    Victoria Texter, my former boss.

  5. Q. What is the best advice you’ve ever received?

    “If it’s worth doing, do it with excellence.” – Victoria Texter

  6. Q. What advice would you give your 20-year-old self?

    You’re not the loser you think you are. You aren’t the lost cause you think you are. You’re going to figure it out.

  7. Q. It’s been said that all great people can have their lives summed up in one sentence. How do you want yours to read?
    A. It wasn’t what happened to her, it’s how she responded.