Friday, January 22, 2010

Vote for Darius

Facebook challenge offers $1 million for research

Express Staff Writer

Darius Weems toured across the U.S. during the making of “Darius Goes West,” a film about a cross-country journey taken by a young man with Duchenne muscular dystrophy and his friends. Photo by

In August 2007, the documentary crew for the film "Darius Goes West" visited Sun Valley. The documentary was screened twice at the Sun Valley Opera House with standing room only.

The movie is about 15-year-old Darius Weems of Athens, Ga., who was taken on a journey out West by a group of his college-age friends. Weems and his brother were both born with Duchenne muscular dystrophy. His brother died from the disease at age 19. Several years ago, Weems lost use of the muscles in his legs and became wheelchair-bound.

Sun Valley resident Theo Gund hosted the film crew's visit because of her relationship with friends whose grandson had been diagnosed with the disease. In addition, Gund had learned that a memorial award named for her son, called the Greg Gund Award, was awarded to "Darius Goes West" at the 2006 Cleveland International Film Festival.

The film also inspired Wood River High School students to raise money for Duchenne muscular dystrophy research.

"The film was very well-received and the kids really got behind it," Gund said. "Darius is alive and well when most kids with his condition die at his age."

Today, there is an opportunity for the Darius Goes West nonprofit organization to win $1 million for research from the Chase Community Giving Challenge. The challenge is an online competition on Facebook. The winner of the competition will be determined by Facebook users.

Voting ends today at 11:59 p.m. The cause with the most votes wins. To vote, visit

Sabina Dana Plasse:

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