More than $30K raised for local principal diagnosed with rare cancer

Erin Bamer
York Dispatch
South Western High School in Penn Township, Tuesday, Nov. 20, 2018. Dawn J. Sagert photo

More than $30,000 was raised in three days for South Western High School Principal Keith Downs, who was recently diagnosed with a rare form of cancer called multiple myeloma. 

Downs has been a principal at the district's high school for four years, and previously worked as a teacher and assistant principal at Dallastown Area High School for 20 years, according to his sister, Kelly King, who organized a fundraiser for Downs on GoFundMe. The campaign had raised $31,910 of its $50,000 goal as of Thursday morning. 

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Multiple myeloma, a plasma cell cancer, affects the body's immune system, bones, kidneys and blood count. King said Downs was diagnosed with stage 2, which has an average life expectancy of 44 months. His chemotherapy treatments started last week. 

Dallastown High School's William Reilly, bottom right, has committed to play NCAA Division III football at Franklin & Marshall College. Seated next to Reilly is Dallastown head football coach Kevin Myers. In the back, from left, are: Dallastown assistant principal Keith Downs, Dallastown athletic director Torry Harvey and Dallastown principal Kevin Duckworth.

Downs' family is hoping to get him a stem cell transplant, which King said is his best chance to put the cancer into long remission. Downs' insurance will not cover all of his medical costs, King said, and he may need to travel to Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore to receive treatments. 

Downs will turn 50 and celebrate his 17th anniversary with his wife, Lisa, this month, King said. 

"We want to do everything we can to make sure Keith has a long life ahead and can celebrate many more birthdays and anniversaries," King said on the GoFundMe page.