So why review a movie on a pediatric blog?
A couple of months ago I received an email from a blog reader who was a participant in a movie project that ultimately produced a unique documentary titled Darius Goes West.
Their ultimate quest: raise awareness and money for Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy research.
For those unfamiliar with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy (DMD), it is a heartbreaking disease that cripples otherwise healthy children by deteriorating their muscles, eventually leading to loss in ambulation, paralysis and death. The average life expectancy for a child afflicted with DMD varies from the early teen years to the mid-30s.
As a pediatric resident, I witnessed, up close and personal, several brave patients who battled doggedly against the recessive X-linked killer. Inevitably and unfortunately, the genetic defect always prevailed.
However, there is light at the end of the tunnel; promising new therapies including stem cell replacement, DNA repair techniques, new uses for old medications and completely new medications set an auspicious foundation for the future.
For Daruis Weems, the future may not be soon enough. But rather than succumbing to Muscular Dystropy, Darius has tackled the disease head-on, creating a documentary film to assist in the fight. The documentary begins in the summer of 2005, with then 15-year-old Darius setting off on a road trip across the United States with the ultimate goal of reaching Los Angeles in the hopes of having his wheelchair souped up on MTV's show "Pimp My Ride".
Eleven of his friends (one of whom emailed me about the cause) join him on this crusade, and what ensues is a remarkable story about courage, friendship and love of life, regardless of the cards life deals you. And while the storyline revolves around the quest to "pimp" Darius' ride, the real story that is ultimately revealed is that life is only as precious and fulfilling as you are willing to make it. And Darius lives life large.
It was neither the best movie nor even the best documentary that I've watched, but I thorougly enjoyed the film and its authenticity. And for certain, it is the best money I have ever spent in purchasing a movie (10 DVDs to be exact... I wanted to share). I cried, I laughed, and I especially enjoyed the rap numbers Darius performs throughout the documentary. The boy has skillz (I doubt I'll ever use that word in another blog again), and so too does the documentary, winner of over 25 separate film awards.
Ultimately, it is an excellent way to spend an evening. And even if you do not thoroughly enjoy the film, you can walk away knowing your money went to a good cause. One day in the not-so-distant future, Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy will meet its match. Until that day comes, Darius and his team will help lead the charge in his pimped-out wheelchair.
More information (and how to purchase the DVD) can be found at www.dariusgoeswest.com, but to simplify things I have inserted a snippet from the website.
The Million DVD fundraiser has begun! The goal of the DGW Foundation is to sell one million copies of Darius's Award winning film, in roughly one year. The "year" began Sept. 1st '08 and will end on Darius's birthday, Sept. 27th 09.
The best way you can help with our "One million DVD in one year" campaign is to purchase a DVD or a set of DARIUS GOES WEST DVDs. By set we mean multiple DVDs for a group of friends or family...for your entire church, synagogue, or Sunday school class...for everyone who works in your company...or for an entire classroom (or school) of students in middle or high school. Your generosity, at any level, will not only help spread awareness for Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy, but it will also help fund promising research intended to treat or cure this fatal disease.
Because we are a non-profit Foundation, any time you buy a DVD, or a set of DVDs, a portion of the purchase is a tax-deductible donation. The fair market value of each DARIUS GOES WEST DVD is $3. When you make a purchase (of $250 or more), we will send you an official thank-you letter that you can use for tax filing purposes.