Duchenne muscular dystrophy activist Darius Weems dies at age 27

(Darius Goes West)
(Darius Goes West)

ATHENS, GA (WCMH) — A young man who was the subject of a documentary about Duchenne muscular dystrophy passed away over the weekend.

Darius Weems, 27, died Sunday afternoon from complications related to DMD, according to a Facebook post from a foundation dedicated to Weems.

Please mourn with us DGW Fans. Our beloved Darius Weems, age 27, passed away due to DMD-related cardiopulmonary failure. Concerned with a persistent cough, Darius’s sister, Maroneisha Robinson, helped him check into Athens Regional Medical Center on Friday morning. While visiting with a physician his symptoms progressed rapidly, and he was transferred, unconscious, to the hospital’s intensive care unit. Surrounded by family members, local DGW crew members, and a dedicated team of doctors, Darius passed peacefully and painlessly at 1:30pm today.

Shock. Grief. Helplessness. Those are the emotions we’re feeling — emotions that all members of the DMD community feel too often and know too well.

Joy. Camaraderie. Hope. Those are the emotions he would want us to feel–emotions that he embodied in his lifelong fight against DMD, and that he spread through countless individuals across the hundreds of thousands of miles of road that he traveled.

And it worked! One month ago, which was two weeks before his 27th birthday celebration, Darius learned that his efforts (alongside the efforts of so many others) helped affect the first ever FDA approved treatment for Duchenne muscular dystrophy. It was an historic day, a day that joy, camaraderie, and hope prevailed.

So, friends, as you join us in mourning, we ask you to reflect on what Darius told us all to do in this profoundly tragic moment.

These are his words, as recorded in his award-winning documentary, Darius Goes West, and you’ll recall that he rapped them over the moment that his foot touched the Pacific Ocean.

“I was smiling that day and I’m gonna be smiling when I leave. ‘Cause when I die, folks ain’t gonna say ‘Darius gone’… they gonna say ‘Darius gone West’.”

Just over a year ago, NBC4 broadcasted the film ‘Darius Goes West’ as part of the effort raise funds for DMD research.

The film followed 15-year-old Darius Weems as he journeyed 7,000 miles across the country to promote awareness of the disease and raise money for research for a cure.

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