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Deidre Downs
Birmingham, Alabama

A native of Birmingham, Alabama, Deidre grew up playing sports and earned a full volleyball scholarship to the University of Virginia. When she gave up her scholarship to focus on academics, she began to compete in the Miss Alabama Pageant to finance her education. She earned over $100,000 in scholarships during the five years she competed and won numerous national awards for her community service platform accomplishments, including the 2005 Public Service Award from the American Association of Cancer Research, President Bush's Daily Point of Light Award for community service, and the Quality of Life Award from the Miss America Organization, which recognizes the contestant with the greatest accomplishments in her community service platform. Deidre was also a magna cum laude graduate of Samford University, an Echols Scholar at the University of Virginia, and a Rhodes Scholar finalist.

Deidre first realized her passion for working with children when she visited Camp Smile-a-Mile, a camp for children with cancer. She returned for a weeklong camp session as a counselor, an experience that motivated her to champion the cause of pediatric cancer as her platform issue. She continued her volunteer work at Children's Hospital of Alabama. Realizing the importance of research funding in the fight against cancer, she created and designed a specialty license plate for the state of Alabama to raise funds for oncology research at Children's Hospital. The plate is now available statewide and to date has raised over $250,000 for research.

After winning the title of Miss America, Deidre took her advocacy to the national level, serving as the official spokesperson for CureSearch National Childhood Cancer Foundation. Deidre has spoken to audiences around the country to raise awareness for pediatric cancer and has lobbied for pediatric cancer issues.

What She's Doing Now

After Deidre's 16-month reign as Miss America ended in January 2006, she continued her speaking tour and became the spokesperson for Sound Effects, a hearing health campaign educating young people to prevent hearing loss. In 2006 Deidre traveled throughout the U.S. and Japan on behalf of hearing-aid manufacturer GN ReSound, speaking to audiences about her own hearing loss and the digital hearing aids she wears.

In August 2006, Deidre entered medical school at the University of Alabama School of Medicine, having deferred her admission upon winning the title of Miss America. She plans to become a pediatrician.



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