Darius Goes West
Hope for the Future: Experts are in agreement that Duchenne should be treated or cured in the not-too-distant future. The primary goal of the Darius Goes West foundation is to catalyze that effort.
Katie Amundson ’09, Karolina Grabowicz ’09, Allie Henson’09, and Andyshea Saberioon ’10 have formed a core group of Rhodes students dedicated to raising awareness of Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy through the promotion of the Darius Goes West organization.
Andyshea: Darius Goes West is about a young man who just recently turned 19 and his mission to raise awareness of Muscular Dystrophy. Darius’ brother died of Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy and Darius also has the disease. The documentary follows Darius and eleven of his friends as they set off on a road trip from Athens, Georgia, to Los Angeles, California, Darius’ first trip outside of his hometown.
Karolina: The Darius Goes West organization got started after the documentary because it was so successful—it won more than 27 awards. The whole message of the documentary is the idealism of youth and taking life as it comes. The organization is a subsidiary of Charley’s Fund, which specifically supports Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy research. The cause of Duchenne is known, so it’s really just a matter of creating awareness and generating donations.
This project has been really significant for me because, since my brother passed away from Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy, I empathize with families faced with this disease. Helping Darius and his crew with this cause has been so great for me because I want to help as much as I can so no other family has to go through what my family went through. I’m so happy to be part of a movement that is actively committed to raising awareness about this disease.
Katie: When I was six years old I was diagnosed with Leukemia. After four years of chemotherapy, I was fortunate enough to survive the disease. Although the cause of Leukemia is unknown, a cure has been discovered. Darius’ message that a cure for Muscular Dystrophy can be found in our lifetime, if not his, really resonates with me because the cure for Leukemia came in the span of one person′s lifetime. After overcoming Leukemia, I have always believed that there was a reason I survived and through Darius Goes West I feel I have found part of the reason: to help others survive just as I did. I hope that the work we are doing here at Rhodes will help to find a cure for Duchenne in my lifetime.
Allie: This cause is so close to my heart because I worked at Project S.T.A.R.T., in Athens, Ga. (where Darius is from), a summer camp for kids with special needs. Darius was always a camper there. I have also known most of the crew since Middle School and some of them are my close friends. My favorite moment working with Darius Goes West was when I had the privilege of hosting them here at Rhodes in September. It was exciting for me to have them here and show them my home at Rhodes and I was so happy with the amazingly positive response that the Rhodes community had to Darius, the crew, and their cause.
Andyshea: We all have been blessed with so much and it is not always about financial means or material things, but it′s about being healthy, having a family, being able to walk. These things are what we take for granted and to see Darius, who has struggled his whole life, to wake up and have a smile on his face every day just made me realize that I want to do whatever I can to help them out any further. Nothing is too big and nothing is too small.