Up in the eastern corner of the country in Maine, Hauns Bassett a Master Specialist in Jobs for Maine’s Graduates helped to bring a guest speaker to two schools. The speaker’s message was one of inspiration and perseverance. Middle school students from across the state raised $4,000 in six weeks by selling raffle tickets, bracelets and t-shirts to bring a young man named Darius Weems to speak at two middle schools. The students were incredibly moved by Weems story.
Weems was diagnosed with Duchenne muscular dystrophy at the age of five. The disease is fatal and Weems does not know how long he will live. The illness robs the individual’s ability to walk, talk and eventually breathe and normally proves fatal before 30 years of age. Weems lost his brother Mario to the disease when he was just 19. At that point Weems, then only 10 years old decided to spread the word and try to find a cure. Weems has dedicated himself to travelling the country and speaking to young people about making every second count.
Weems became known in 2005 after a documentary called “Darius Goes West” chronicled his journey across America to have his wheel chair transformed by “Pimp My Ride.” Weems told the students “It just shows when times get hard and stuff you just gotta believe and keep fighting. “ Joshua Breault, a 7th grader commented “I was just impressed that as little a state as Maine is, that we could have him come up here, that he’d want to.” Weems spoke to about 1,000 Maine students in two days before heading off to New York.
The students learned not to pity those who are disabled and realized that disability or not, you can do anything you set your mind to. The Jobs for Maine’s Graduates program serves more than 4,000 students in grades six through 12. The students face challenges as well, barriers to completing their education. Students told Mr. Bassett that watching Weems’ movie gave them the motivation they needed to try out for sports teams and/or school plays and taught them the importance of helping others. Weems also performs rap music as an expression of his feelings and hopes that students he speaks to learn to believe in themselves. He left the students with one last thought. “Sometimes if you put a little effort into something, you don’t know how far it can go.”
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