Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Happy Birthday Stephen Hawking

Today is the birthday of physicist Stephen Hawking. He is 66 years old. This is truly remarkable considering that he has ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis), or "Lou Gehrig's Disease." He is probably the longest living person with this debilitating disease. Though it has ravaged his body (he uses a wheelchair--I don't like the phrase confined to a wheelchair--and a computer to talk for him), his brilliant mind has remained intact. He has become a world-renowned physicist (specializing in black holes), the Lucasian Professor of Mathematics at Cambridge University (the chair once held by Sir Isaac Newton), and best-selling author of A Brief History of Time. He is an idol of mine because he is able to transcend his physical body and focus on what he can do with his mind.

The documentary, A Brief History of Time, is about his life and work. It is worth seeing

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Darius Goes West

Last night I watched a wonderful documentary on DVD called Darius Goes West. It is the story of Darius Weems, a 15 year old from Athens, Georgia with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy who had never gone anywhere outside of his own town. In the summer of 2005, he travelled west to California in an accessible RV with a group of dedicated friends with the goal of being on the MTV show, Pimp my Ride to have his power wheelchair customized. He is a young man with a great love of life who doesn't let his disability hold him back. The documentary chronicles his adventures during his trip and how accessible the country is for people using wheelchairs. It is funny, touching, and inspiring. After seeing the movie I felt uplifted. His comments at the end of the movie sum up his great philosophy on life
"This is to all the people in a wheelchair: You don't have to stay at home. You can get out and see the world. Don't let your life pass by you, and just sitting there looking like a bump on the wall! Just do what you can, and always remember, just thank people who are in your life to help you, and don't be mean to people, and just try to do your best, to live your life to the fullest,
if you don't have long to live."
All the procedes from the sale of the DVD go to Charley's Fund a non-profit organization to help fund research to find a cure or treatments for DMD.