Wednesday, September 23, 2009
"Darius Goes West": a teen with DMD makes a road trip with his friends
The independent film “Darius Goes West: The Roll of His Life” (url for (site ), directed by Logan Smalley, takes 15 year old Darius Weems, with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy (DMD) (wiki), across the country on a road movie with college students, with the aim of getting on the MTV program “Pimp My Ride” to have his wheelchair customized. The disease is the most prevalent genetic killer of children and young adults in the world. Darius’s brother had already died of the disease.
The film chronicles the warm relationship with his friends, and the many stops at places like Carlsbad Caverns (which I visited in April 1980, in snow, ironically). A couple of the kids get tattoos and take a little humiliation “for the team.” The survive an RV breakdown in the rain, and get royalty treatment at the Beverly Hills Hilton.
There is a comment that our society overvalues “independence” when interdependence is inevitable and necessary. Later, there is a comment that disability will increase as baby boomers age and eldercare becomes a challenge.
The kids go hot-air-ballooning, and then white rapids rowing, apparently in the Colorado River.
They have to deal with places and facilities that are not easily wheelchair accessible.
The DVD is available in different “entertainment region” formats (NTSC, PAL), and a middle school version is available with a campfire scene deleted where the one sexually explicit conversation in the film happens.
The proceeds from the film go to "Charley's Fund" (link).
On Saturday, Sept. 27, 2009, Frederica Whitfield on CNN interviewed Jason Rzepka from MTV. Then Darius himself appeared.
The MTV link for the showing on that cable channel is here.
Picture: Atlanta (mine, from 2004).