Wed11132019

Last updateWed, 13 Nov 2019 12pm

Entertainment

Darius Goes West Embodies Strength and Determination

Darius Goes WestDuchenne Muscular Dystrophy (DMD) is a disease where all the muscles in the human body degenerate, causing the legs to fail, and eventually the heart.

A portion of the documentary, Darius Goes West, which was screened on October 20 in Wilson Auditorium gave an impression of one individual living with DMD, Darius Weems.

The film’s director Logan Smalley was also on campus to present the film. 

Darius Goes West is about 15-year-old Weems, a young man affected by DMD. His older brother, Mario, was also affected by DMD and died at 19.

With help from his friends and Smalley, Weems decided to go on a 7000 mile cross country tour with 10 other friends for two reasons.

One was to get his wheelchair customized on MTV’s “Pimp my Ride” and the other was to promote DMD, and to collect funding for research into the disease.

Impressively, the movie was funded on a $70,000 budget raised almost entirely through charity, Smalley said. Although the idea of a cross country tour seemed like a silly idea at first, in mere minutes Weems and Smalley planned out the idea and were dedicated to pursuing this goal.

Due to the fact that the movie’s budget was funded by charity, Smalley said that Darius Goes West had one of the longest movie credits at the end.

Although many of the students in attendance were there because of a class requirement, they got to see Weem’s fun loving and ever optimistic character through the film since Weems himself wasn’t there. Smalley was equally happy that so many students showed up to the screening.

Taylor Kelly, a sophmore at the University, said, “I thought Darius’ friends’ determination and connection with him was what made the whole journey amazing to viewers.”

Many clips of the film displayed Weems visiting places all over the world from beaches and swamps to riding a hot air balloon and going to Las Vegas.

Ryan Clutter, a junior, said, “It was great for him to see the country in a way he otherwise wouldn’t have been able to.”

The scene at the beach shows how dedicated the crew is and how strong their friendship with Weems is. They literally lifted him out of the wheelchair and carried him into the water to experience waves for the first time.

There is also the scene when the crew rides a boat through the swamp. Having never seen an alligator up close before, Weems was terrified. At this point the audience got to see that Weems truly lived a sheltered life because of DMD.

One of the most powerful scenes is when the crew makes their first pit stop. They are shocked to find that the gas station they stopped at didn’t have a ramp for people with disabilities.

Basically, the fact that they had to go back on the RV and drive to the next gas station just for Weems to use the restroom spoke more with its visuals than any words could.

“Darius Goes West was an amazing story that opened my eyes to the world of handicapped individuals and the day-to-day situations they encounter.  It was a heartfelt documentary that made me realize the general good nature of people and the uplifiting times that even a man with DMD can enjoy,” junior Brett Gilmartin said.

However, the best scene occurs when Weems is dared to eat Wasabi sauce. Not knowing what it was, he ate a whole spoonful of it and quickly regretted his decision.

Although by-passers pitied Weems for what seemed like bullying, Weems and the crew knew it was a symbol of how strong their friendship was. They didn’t treat Weems differently because of his disability, but treated him like a member of the group.

Just by watching a mere half hour of the movie, everyone got to see the incredible and humorous bond between Weems and the Darius Goes West crew. On a side note, because of the Wasabi, a new fundraiser was born called the “Goslabi Challenge.”

In short, participators donate $10 and eat a spoonful of Wasabi like Weems did, and fight through the spicy taste since it’s for charity.

The film itself has received virtually nothing but positive reception. A few years after the initial tour, the crew made another trip by going to at least 40 film festivals.

According to Smalley, the film received 29 awards at these festivals.

For those interested in buying the DVD, check out dariusgoesweststore.com and for more information about the movie, visit www.dariusgoeswest.org.

The film also has both a YouTube profile of “dariusgoeswest,” and a Facebook page. Smalley also said the film will be available on iTunes soon.

Since, this was an independent movie the filmmakers can decide where the money goes. So, all profits made will go toward researching DMD and finding a cure.

For anyone wondering about how Weems is today, he is still alive and currently 22-years-old. His wheelchair ultimately was customized to include accessories like a TV, a PS2, an iPod station, and spinners on his wheels.

PHOTO COURTESY of dariusgoeswest.org

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