Darius Goes West: Ekphrastic Response
Wishes are what keep people optimistic, they are what prevents someone from giving up. My cousin’s husband, Collin Sheppley, has a job as a special needs teacher for a school in Georgia, and he was lucky to enough to have Darius Weems as a student in his class. Darius has duchenne muscular distrophy, a non curable disease that is the most fatal genetic disease to affect children in the world. Darius has spent his entire life in a wheelchair, and has been waiting for a cure. Collin always had big hopes and dreams for each of his students, but Darius’ seemed to resonate with Collin longer than the others. For nearly 2 years, Collin and his group of friends thought of way to help Darius. When the idea came, Collin knew it was perfect; Collin and his friends along with Darius, were going to tour the United States while spreading awareness for DMD.
The group embarked on 7,000 mile journey all over the United States in 2005 to raise money for research for a cure. Darius, who because of disease, had never left his hometown of Athens, Georgia, saw the ocean for the first time in Panama Beach City, Florida, and experienced a hot air balloon ride for the first time in California. The expedition also brought the group to cities such as New Orleans, Las Vegas, San Diego, and San Francisco. The group raised over $2 million for DMD Research and the crew turned the trip into a film. The movie is called Darius Goes West: The Roll of His Life and has been recognized by ABC News Nightline, Los Angeles Times, and DVD Talk. The documentary won a total of 28 film festival awards and was also nominated for an Emmy.
Wishes are often put in a bottle and disregarded, but wishes are what keeps you determined. They are what sparks you into action. Sometimes wishes may seem impossible and unrealistic, but look what a group of friends can do when they put their minds to it. The filmmakers had hoped to raise $70,000 for research, and their profit has nearly times that goal by 30. Wishes should be set high and never lowered because anyone can make a difference. A wise man once said, “One person can’t help eveybody, but everyone can help somebody”, and Collin has certainly has helped somebody. Darius Weems is still waiting on a DMD cure, but scientists are getting closer everyday.


Ben Auten