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Kids take their friend on a ride to tell his story

POSTED: October 19, 2008 5:01 a.m.

For everyone out there who says pop culture only shows images of kids doing bad things, this is one case where you need to drop whatever you’re doing and watch this movie.

Shown this Saturday at the Sautee Nacoochee Center in celebration of October being Disabilities Awareness Month, "Darius Goes West" is a sweet, heartwarming and heroic tale of a group of Athens kids who are just trying to do right by Darius, who has Duchenne muscular dystrophy.

The disease usually starts to take hold of your body around age 10, and by the time you’re in middle school you’re in a wheelchair and slowly losing the use of your limbs.

Not many with Duchenne’s live to see their 25th birthday.

With the help of 11 of his closest friends, Darius begins the journey to California to try to get MTV to pimp his wheelchair on the popular show, "Pimp My Ride." The idea, in their minds, is simple: Nobody their age knows who Jerry Lewis is, so while his telethon for muscular dystrophy raises millions each year, there is an entire generation that doesn’t know he exists. But by telling Darius’ story on "Pimp My Ride," a new generation can learn about the disease and a new groundswell of support can start.

Along the way, the film also becomes a look at what the Americans with Disabilities Act has — or hasn’t — accomplished, as simple things like using a gas station rest room or even taking a dip in the ocean become huge undertakings for someone in a wheelchair.

Darius turns 19 this year, which is the same age his brother was when he died of the disease. And right now the filmmakers are trying to get their 1 millionth DVD sold, which will not only allow $17 million be donated to Duchenne’s research but it also will start them on a follow-up film, continuing Darius’ story.

If you’re lucky enough to see this film, it will be one more person Darius can touch, and one more person aware of this disease.



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