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).

1 comment:

Bill Boushka said...

Darius's organization sent this email, which I believe was intended as a comment:

The big day is this Sunday, September 27, and we hope you'll party with us...wherever you are. "Big D" and some of the crew will be celebrating in New York City (one of his favorite places on the planet), and he'll be in the media spotlight big time...
Darius gets two early birthday presents on Saturday morning, when he will make an appearance on: The CBS Early Show (Check your local listings). That will be followed by an encore appearance on CNN Newsroom (with Fredericka Whitfield) at Noon (EST). In this follow-up piece, MTV's Vice President of Public Affairs, Jason Rzepka, will discuss why MTV decided to broadcast the film.
All of this leads up to the biggest celebration of all on Sunday: the world television premiere of Darius Goes West on MTV!
Yep, the very network that so many DGW supporters have viewed as "villanous" has stepped up to the plate in a huge way. They will host the world television premiere of Darius Goes West on both MTV2 and mtvU on D's birthday. Here are broadcast details...
* MTV2: Sunday, September 27 at noon (EST)
* mtvU: Sunday, September 27 at 6:00 PM (EST)
The MTV2 broadcast is only 63 minutes long (to allow for commercial sponsorship), so Logan had to edit the film. However, mtvU will broadcast the entire film (90 minutes).
Please help us spread the word about this broadcast by joining us in our "Twitter Takeover" (see below) or by blogging about it and/or sharing it on your Facebook/ MySpace page. We want ratings to be through the roof!
During the broadcast, MTV VJ, Sway Calloway will announce one of our newest initiatives--our text to donate campaign.
Thanks to our partnering organization, Parent Project Muscular Dystrophy (PPMD), anyone can donate $5 to support promising DMD research at any time by text-messaging the word "Spin" to the number 90999. Go ahead...try it:)
And major props to for making the DGW/MTV connection. When Darius received his prestigious DoSomething award last May, he was surprised with this early birthday gift. MTV also donated $10,000 to Charley's Fund for DMD research. Know about it!