Darius goes West ... to J-E, Marcellus

Darius Weems is not a Central New York native. He's not a pop start, an award-winning-actor, or a major league athlete.

But when he visited Jordan-Elbridge High School this morning, and Driver Middle School this afternoon, he received a celebrity's welcome complete with school bands, throngs of admirers and the media.

What's all the fuss?

Weems, 19, is the hero of the film Darius Goes West, in which Weems and a crew of friends head from his hometown of Athens, Georgia to Los Angeles in a quest to have Weem's wheelchair customized by MTV's Pimp My Ride crew. The result was not a slick new chair, but a new ambassador and activist for Duchenne muscular dystrophy, the disease that confines Weems to the chair and cost him the use of his legs and the life of his older brother in 1999.

As the film, and it's star, have gained momentum around the country and globe, a school program was developed which allows entire communities to view the film and often meet Weems and his crew, while fundraising for DMD.

Such is the case at JE and Driver.

This morning, Weems and company were welcomed to JE by the drum line and a gauntlet of students, staff and faculty members. During lunch periods, students lined up to chat with crew members and Weems himself, snapping photos and collecting autographs. One pair of senior girls even performed an original rap for Weems to show him how his story had impacted them.

The Dariuscrew then rolled over to Driver Middle School for an afternoon reception, complete with the middle school bad, student assemblies and a community screening tonight of the film, followed by a discussion with Weems and the crew.

The screening will begin at 7 p.m. at Marcellus High School auditorium and is open to the public. Though the Darius crew will visit other local schools this week, tonight's screening in Marcellus is the only one they are set to attend.

For more on Darius' visit and how local schools raised funds for DMD, see next week's Eagle Observer.

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