Friday, December 14, 2007

Darius Goes West

Logan Smalley, one of the students in my course at Harvard has been making the rounds on the daytime talk show circuit. A contingent of fellow masters students raised signs saying “Harvard Loves Darius” on the street outside the studio of The Today Show, and Ellen Degeneres embraced Logan and his crew on the Ellen Show. Why has the 25-year old Logan become such a media magnet?

Logan directed an incredible documentary film called Darius Goes West that tells the story of Darius, a 15-year old young man from Athens, GA with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy, who travels cross-country to LA in the hope of getting his wheelchair pimped on MTV’s Pimp My Ride. Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy is an incurable affliction that typically takes the lives of its victims by the time they reach their early 20s. Logan was a friend of Darius’ older brother who, before succumbing to the disease himself, asked Logan to take care of his younger sibling. To raise awareness of this disease Logan and his friends plotted this trip with Darius. The younger generation, they realized, knows nothing of Jerry Lewis and his annual efforts to raise money for muscular dystrophy. But this generation does know Pimp My Ride!

Raising money with a door-to-door bar-b-q sale and by selling movie credits for $10 and up (possibly the longest credit list in movie history), Logan and his crew rented an RV and took Darius on the trip of a lifetime, his first out of the county. The documented story is wonderful, funny, and heartwarming. It’s also won more than two dozen film awards and got mentioned in The Wall Street Journal as one of the notable documentaries to qualify for the Oscars. And Logan has developed materials to support the educational use of the film. He has hundreds of interested schools who want to share the lessons of the story. Keep your eye out for Logan and Darius; they are worth seeing.

1 comment:

callie said...

Darius Weems (the focus of the documentary DARIUS GOES WEST) was just announced as one of five winners of a Do Something Award:

Five winners receive a minimum of $10,000 in community grants and scholarships.

On June 4th, at a star-studded event at the Apollo Theater in NYC, one of the five winners will be selected as the grand prize Do Something Award winner.

The grand prize Do Something Award winner receives a total of $100,000 in community grants.

The Do Something Award community grant money is paid directly to the not-for-profit of the winner’s choice.

All winners have the option of receiving $5,000 of the total money awarded in the form of an educational scholarship.

Since 1996, Do Something has honored the nation’s best young world-changers. Do Something Award Winners represent the pivotal "do-ers" in their field, cause, or issue and are rewarded with a huge community grant, participation in a special award ceremony, media coverage, and continued support from Do Something.
In 2007, The BR!CK Awards became the FIRST EVER televised award show about making the world better. Millions watched it on The CW and it was a critical success.
In 2008, The BR!CK Awards were renamed the Do Something Awards and became the first non-celebrity category of the Teen Choice Awards. There were 9 winners in the category. Online voting determined the one Grand Prize winner. Each of them received $10,000 for their project and 19 year old Chad Bullock won a whopping $100,000. Scarlett Johansson presented The Do Something Award.