Darius Goes West is a documentary by Logan Smalley about Darius Weems, a teenager living with Duchenne muscular dystrophy. In 2005, Darius was a 15 year old teenager who had never traveled outside his home town of Athens Georgia. His older brother, Mario, died at the age of 19 from the same muscular dystrophy disease. That summer, Darius, along with 11 friends, none older than 24 years old, half of them under 20, rented an RV and traveled across country to California. They took over 300 hours of footage detailing every aspect of their road trip. What prompted the ride to California was Smaller’s discovery of a letter Darius had written to MTV, asking them to customize his wheelchair on their T.V. show Pimp My Ride. They intended to bring awareness to the fatal disease, to raise money for research into a cure, and to give Darius an adventure. The friends took care of all of Darius’ needs, including bathing and bathroom needs.
It was the ride of his life. Darius felt the ocean for the first time in Florida, celebrated the 15th anniversary of the Americans With Disabilities Act in the bat caves at Carlsbad Caverns National Park in New Mexico, went rafting, rode in a hot air balloon and visited the Grand Canyon, the place he wanted to see the most.
The film is worth the watch and can be uploaded for free on Youtube or you can purchase the DVD to help fund the research for a cure for Duchenne muscular dystrophy. It is a testament to courage, adventure, friendship and love. Check out the promo video below.
This story reminds me of the story of the four friends who carried their friend, who was stricken with paralysis, to the roof of a house; they tore off the roof and lowered their friend to the feet of Jesus. The owner of the house may not have been too happy, but Jesus was so impressed with their effort that he commended them for their faith, and as a result of their faith he granted forgiveness of sins to the paralyzed man. And then He healed him. (Mark 2:1 -12).
It also reminds me of Tony Palma and Steve Lucas. They are currently on a cruise to Turks and Caicos Islands. That is not the part that reminds me of the four friends or of Darius Goes West. This is: Tony and Steve are accompanied by Sean and Kevin. Sean has Multiple Sclerosis and needs a scooter or wheelchair to get around; Kevin was born with Down’s Syndrome which has its own challenges. Steve is Kevin’s father. Sean and Kevin have different needs from each other and certainly different than Darius Weems. Darius’ physical condition is much worse and more challenging. But the needs are real and the challenges, at times, can be overwhelming, especially for Sean and those who accompany him. No one knows this better than his wife and family who deal with challenges on a daily basis. So going on a cruise is a great experience for all four of these men, but there are physical needs and limitations that have to be met.
Steve and Tony work together to care for Sean and Kevin. It is a cruise, but it is not necessarily a carefree cruise. There is work involved and things to prepare for that take extra effort and attention to detail. But they thoroughly enjoy their time together. It is a blessing for them and they share good fellowship, good laughter and God’s presence. As impressed as I am with the friends of Darius Weems and the friends of the paralytic, I am equally impressed with Tony and Steve. They are God’s servants, making sure that Sean and Kevin get to have the best time they possibly can, see sights they never would get to see and enjoy an experience that would never have been possible if it were not for their faithfulness and love. In turn, both Sean and Kevin are blessings to Tony and Steve. They both possesses beautiful spirits, have tremendous faith and are fun to be with. Tony and Steve would be the first to tell you that they are the ones who receive the greater blessing as they continue to forge bonds that can only come from shared experiences. Sean, with his recitation of Seinfeld quotes and Kevin, with his hugs and affection fill the room with great joy.
This was billed as a “Men’s Cruise” and is the second year they have gone. They are already talking about going on one next year. Maybe they can get two more men to equal the friends of the paralytic. Or nine more men to equal the friends of Darius. Or perhaps even more. However many guys go, I am blessed, impressed and touched by the kindness and love of Tony and Steve and the generosity and thoughtfulness of Sean and Kevin.
What do you think?
How does it make you feel?