Deanna Cox Puts Her Creative and Philanthropic Talents to Use
Deanna “DeDe” Cox has boundless energy. In addition to working full time as a paralegal at a personal injury law firm, she organizes charity events and pageants, and she is also a fiction romance writer, having published two books.
Cox is the 2018 WLKY Bell Award winner for community service, and she is connected to one of this year’s winners through the pageant system. Brooklyn Roller is a Bell Award winner for youth service, and a former Little Miss Kentucky. Roller has helped to organize fundraising efforts for Blessings in a Backpack, The Dream Factory, Opal’s Dream Foundation and Toys for Tots.
The WLKY Spirit of Louisville Foundation began honoring local volunteers in 1978. The Bell Award recognizes contributions to the community, and “ordinary people doing extraordinary things,” according to the WLKY website.
Cox recently completed the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF) gala, and the Jamon Brown Foundation Halloween fundraiser at Glassworks event space.
She collects hats, scarves and gloves for adults at Brown Cancer Center.
“I have two dads, and both passed away with cancer,” Cox says, adding that she will be collecting desserts for Thanksgiving dinner at Wayside Christian Mission.
Cox is also working on an event for December for Ardi’s Bears, with book donations to be distributed to a designated elementary school in the Jefferson County Public School system.
Cox attends Bardstown United Methodist Church, and the church will be collecting socks, gloves and toys for a mission trip to Harlan County in December. A United Methodist church member is from Harlan, and asked the church to participate.
Cox also organizes community service opportunities and mentors participants for Kentucky festival pageants. She is a preliminary director in the pageant system and for Miss Kentucky.
“I started in pageants at age 40, and I was the most mature participant in Mrs. Kentucky in my hometown of Bardstown,” she says.
Cox is involved in three festival pageants in Hillview, Bullitt County and the Buttermilk Days Festival, which lead directly to Kentucky and national pageants.
She emphasizes that the key to success in any pageant is the interview.
“Ask any title holder what it takes to do well – it’s the ability to speak to the public, to be off the cuff, and feel comfortable,” Cox says. “The interview is the most important part. It’s looking at how well participants speak, engage and make eye contact. Title holders have to be likable and comfortable, and able to have an intelligent conversation. Kindness goes a lot further than being mean.”
Cox has also published two romance novels, with a third in the works. Her oldest son Bo, a pediatric nursing student, is the cover model.
“They call him FabiBo, because he looks like Fabio the famous model – so much so, that his photo has been sent to Fabio’s publicist,” Cox says.
Cox started writing her first book at age 33, but stopped writing when she was pregnant and had complications. She decided to complete the book last year. She finished it in two months, then contacted a friend who called a publisher.
“I had to write and type after everyone was asleep,” Cox recalls.
The book, titled “Two Degrees One Heart”, debuted February 14. Her second book, “Perfect Chrystmas”, was released on October 3. Her next book will be titled “Two Degrees Hotter”, to be followed by “Stolen Roses” and “All His Love”.
A screenwriter recently contacted her about adapting her work into a screenplay, and it was sent to three producers.
The books are available at Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Cox has done book signings at Barnes & Noble locations in Elizabethtown, Louisville and Lexington, as well as Virginia Beach and Las Vegas.
Cox even encouraged another pageant participant to publish a book. Katie Chandler, author of “Love-A-Bull”, met Cox while still in high school. Cox was then a regular at her family’s restaurant, Bearno’s Pizza in Jeffersontown. Cox recruited Chandler to enter pageants as a way to boost her resume for college. The two stayed in touch and worked on fundraisers for JDRF, as Chandler’s brother has diabetes.
“She’s a little ball of service – a ball of energy,” Chandler says of Cox.
Chandler describes her book as being for children and families, as “a platform for events with local resources, to raise money, get people together, and spread the word to families looking to adopt dogs.”
Locally, Chandler has worked with MisPits and Friends, a group that helps place dogs, especially pit bulls, in foster homes.
“I raised a child with a pit bull, and so can you,” Chandler says. “They’re not the danger they’ve been made out to be, and they’re overlooked at shelters. Any dog can cause issues, not just a pit bull.”
Chandler’s boyfriend Tyler had a pit bull before the two met, and they rescued a second pit bull together before their daughter Evie was born. The couple wanted to raise their daughter along with their dogs, and made certain preparations like taking Evie’s blanket home from the hospital so the dogs would know her scent before she came home.
“They know to sit still, and they’re not aggressive,” Chandler says. “They’re so sweet. I decided to write a book as a teaching point for parents. I’ve researched, and there’s a large community, mostly families.”
A friend helped Chandler with the book’s illustrations. She learned that Cox had published a book, and Cox’s publisher loved Chandler’s idea.
“I was worried it wouldn’t be accepted, because it was about pit bulls,” Chandler says.
The book was released in July.
Cox is also an animal lover. She has two rescue bulldogs, one Victorian and one English, from Indiana Bulldog Rescue.
Cox says the unusual spelling of the name “DeDe” stems from a responsibility she often undertakes among friends.
“It’s ‘DeDe’ like designated driver,” she says. “I’m always the designated driver because I don’t drink or smoke or use drugs. I never have.”