Editor’s Note: This is the first in a series of stories about the men and women selected as this year’s Heroes of the Heartland for the Southern Prairie chapter of the American Red Cross. An awards breakfast and program will be held May 3 at the Bridge View Center in Ottumwa.
OTTUMWA — There’s no mistaking the makeup, the wig, the outfit and the laughter.
Dizzy the Clown, aka Desirae Payne, has become a fixture in southern Iowa, entertaining thousands of children while at the same time educating them and illuminating important issues to children and adults such as anti-bullying.
Nominated for her efforts, Payne was cited as a Hero of the Heartland because “she is what the Heroes campaign is all about, honoring a person who doesn’t want the limelight, just to make life a little better for some kids in their time of needs.”
Payne has portrayed Dizzy the Clown for more than 14 years. Along with delivering “humor therapy” to her patients at the hospital and cancer center, Payne spends countless hours at schools, reading assemblies, instructing children about the virtues of SKATE, a program designed to discourage bullying.
Payne has also developed a clown ministry for churches, Vacation Bible Schools, Bible camps and other special services,
“Through my clown humor I hope to be able to put a little laughter, lightness and love in people’s day … especially the children and those who are ill and suffering,” she said.
Payne’s work is serious business, but that doesn’t mean she can’t have some fun doing it, and in turn, the lives of those she touches are made just that more brighter.