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Downing's Is a Story of Perseverance

October 01, 2014

Darryl Downing

Darryl Downing has enjoyed a successful and satisfying career as a professional culinary manager and co-owner of a corporate dining business.

But his career and life changed dramatically in a matter of seconds six years ago. Downing was hit head-on by another driver on I-70. The entire left side of his body from the shoulder to the knee was crushed. It took 43 screws and three rods to repair the damage. He was told that he would never walk again.

Physical therapy and medical care were difficult to afford due to a lack of insurance. Everything that he had worked for so diligently was now gone. 

Nevertheless, Downing persevered.

“Through the grace of God, I am now able to walk (with a limp), and have some very limited use of my left hand,” said Downing. He has been diagnosed with neuropathy, chronic pain and muscle atrophy. Downing said that he is in constant pain, and does not like taking pain medications because they make him feel “zombied-out.” 

Instead of feeling this way, he chooses to occupy his mind and combat the pain with writing, singing and creating menus for his future businesses. He said that at times he is down and depressed.

“The pain is so bad at times that I can’t get out of bed, but I push through it and keep fighting,” Downing added.

Downing adopted the philosophy that though his body may be broken, his mind is still whole. That attitude spurred him to enroll at St. Louis Community College-Florissant Valley in 2011. He decided that it was time to find a new vocation and is currently one semester away from having an associate degree in business administration.

Downing has earned a Board of Trustees Scholarship and has been on the Dean’s List.  He was recently notified that he was the chosen recipient of the UMB Endowment Scholarship for Business Administration for fall 2014 semester. He is a peer mentor in the African-American Male Initiative, which encourages African-American males to achieve academically and complete college.

Downing also was part of the inaugural biotechnology class at BRDG Park, where he received his Certificate of Completion in Laboratory Specialization in June 2012.

He credits Amy Bird in the Access office at Florissant Valley with being a positive influence during his college journey.

“She is always there to give me that little push or pep talk when I need it the most,” he said.

Downing is looking forward to the next phase of his life. He plans to earn a bachelor’s degree in business management at the University of Missouri-St. Louis. One of his ultimate goals is to successfully own and manage his own string of restaurants.

He plans to continue mentoring and giving back to the community. Downing hopes that his story will encourage others to keep on fighting no matter how hard it gets. He himself has come a long way, but it’s apparent that he still wants to go much farther.

“Don’t give up because a vision is worthless without a proactive strategy,” he said.