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Clemson Rolls out the Orange Carpet

October 12, 2008

Next up for Darius and crew was a trip to Clemson, South Carolina for a screening October 8.

Joan Borick set up the screening, and under her guidance, the Clemson community gave us a day we’ll never forget.

The day started early with a dirt-biking excursion.

With the rain pouring down, the course–operated by Jiffy Nelson–got more than a little muddy. Still, we were welcomed by a mob of folks, including Clemson Mayor Larry Abernathy. Student Council members at Daniel High School even missed class and braved the weather to spend time with us.

Somehow, DGW driver Daniel Epting talked his way into taking a spin on the course. Here, Daniel tries to reassure a skeptical Darius that he knows what he’s doing.

Major props to Robby Lightsey for setting it up. Also thanks are due to Jiffy Nelson and riders Kyle Perry, Eric Moore, Jesse Nuteroni, and Jason Woods. We had a blast!

We were met by great hosts throughout our stop in Clemson. Mayor Abernathy, Joan Borick, Joan’s kids Mimi and Paul, and other members of “the mini-crew” hung out with us all day.

So, after the dirt-biking course, and vain attempts by everyone to get dry, our mob headed to lunch at the world-famous, Skins Hotdogs.

The record amount of hot dogs eaten in one sitting at Skins is twenty-one. Fortunately for everyone, none of the crew members tried to match it. We were stuffed after four or five (or eight).

After lunch, we made our way to Daniel High School, where we were welcomed with an INCREDIBLE reception.

During two lunch periods, students at Daniel crowded around Darius and the crew for a question-and-answer session set up by teacher Christine Lightsey and Daniel High’s Student Council. Earlier in the year, principal Sharon Huff screened DGW to the entire student body, so the kids were psyched at the chance to meet Darius.

Here, a local girl scout troupe presents Darius with a donation check of $50, and a line set up for DVD and t-shirt purchases went half-way across the cafeteria!

Throughout our visit to Clemson, we were especially blown away by all the young people motivated by Darius and his cause against Duchenne muscular dystrophy. Students at Daniel high alone raised THOUSANDS of dollars and immeasurable awareness for the cause on our visit.

As Daniel Epting told the students, a lot of the DGW crew was just finishing high school when we made the movie, so you can make a difference, no matter what age you are. Speaking to the folks we met, he was already preaching to the choir.

Next, Darius, Mayor Abernathy, and crew boarded a CAT bus–part of Clemson’s free, fully accessible public transit.

On the CAT bus, we went to Death Valley, Clemson University’s football stadium. There, former Clemson quarterback Patrick Sapp showed us around.

Before games, it’s a tradition for Clemson players to rub Howard’s Rock, then “run down the hill” onto the field…

So, despite the rain, we took to the hill as tons of Clemsonites, including the marching band, cheered us on!

Thank you so much, Patrick (to the left in the blue windbreaker), Joan (to the left of Patrick), Tiger Cub (to the left of Darius), members of the Clemson University Tiger Pep Band, and…

not least, Clemson cheerleaders! Gooooo, Tigers! Congratulations, Clemson: you’re now DGW’s favorite non-Georgia Bulldogs football team by FAR!

Even after all this, it was still only 3:40 PM! Incredibly, Clemson still had a half-day of amazing hospitality left in them!

So Joan led us deeper into the Clemson campus to the Redfern Health Center. There, we met over sandwiches and chicken fingers with Clemson students and faculty. Students Matt (pictured) and Jeanette presented a study they conducted on universal design in buildings on Clemson’s campus.

Here, Mayor Abernathy speaks of the vital need for universal design. Universal design calls for accessibility to be a major factor in considering every aspect of life. In designing a building, for example, an architect should avoid making stairs when a ramp serves both people who use wheelchairs and people who do not.

Matt told Darius that he loved the line–in one of Darius’s raps in the movie–that “the problem’s with the building; not my condition.”

It was a wonderful, energizing treat to meet with members of the academic community who share DGW’s goals for promoting accessibility in all forms. Thank you, Joan, for setting up this unique opportunity, and thanks to Dr. Elaine Richardson (Director of Clemson’s Academic Success Center), Dr. Arlene Stewart (Clemson’s Student Disability Services Program Director), and students!

Next, we headed to Fort Hill Presbyterian Church, where Clemson once again rolled out the red…um, we mean orange…carpet! Are you noticing a pattern yet?

At Fort Hill, Joan and Clemson presented us with gift bags overflowing with shirts, hats, notepads–and much needed towels! Here’s a magnificent, three-tiered cake made just for the occasion. Check out the CAT bus, paw prints, Tiger Cub, four-wheeler, and other details. On the other side, there’s even a reproduction of our RV!

Here, the gifts continued. Mayor Abernathy presented the DGW crew with lapel pins and gave Darius a KEY TO CLEMSON!

Then, seen here, Daniel High student and Fort Hill Presbyterian member William Spitler presented Darius with a framed drawing of Darius he had made THAT afternoon! Darius, an artist himself, was thrilled. The drawing is now displayed prominently in DGW’s Athens office, where it will stay for a while. Thanks William!

Our visit at Fort Hill Presbyterian Church gave us a chance to thank Clemson, and to hang out with some of the folks who made our day in Tigertown so special. Thank you so much, Fort Hill Presbyterian, Daniel High Student Council, and Darius’s mini-crew! More thanks to Chick-Fil-A Restaurant, who provided us with great food to raise money for the cause.

Here, Darius and crew pose with the Clemson University cheerleaders. Meanwhile, Daniel tries to secure a spot on the squad by showing off his pom-pom skills.

And it was still only 7:30! After the 8:00 screening at the Brooks Theater, Clemson gave us our loudest reception of the day.

We were running on fumes from the great day Joan had shown us, but enthusiasm from the crowd energized us again, and despite the massive crowd, we had a very intimate question-and-answer session.

Here, Darius and crew listen raptly as a member of the audience recites rhymes about her impressions of the film.

After the Q-and-A, the generosity kept coming, as DGW’s Clemson supporters made October 8 one of the most successful days so far in our year-long effort to raise $17 million and a new level of awareness for research into a cure for Duchenne muscular dystrophy.

In the end, Clemson showed us love, fun, and energy that can’t be expressed, even by the longest entry in the history of the Darius Goes West blog! Thank you so much, Joan Borick and family, Mayor Abernathy, and Clemson!


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22 Responses to “Clemson Rolls out the Orange Carpet”

  1. On October 12th, 2008, Mimi Borick said:

    We had sooo much fun!!! thank you for coming Darius and Crew. I had fun hanging out wit hyou guys for the day. Come again soon!!!!!!!!

    Love, Mimi Borick :-)

  2. On October 12th, 2008, Joan Borick said:

    Hi Darius and Crew! We miss you so much and hope you are having fun on the road again this week. We are still recovering from Wed. fun and truly basking in the glow of spending the day with such a great group of guys!!! Boy did we have fun! So many people have contacted me and commented that Wed. was a life changing day for them and their children. We really do “know about it…now” and we will continue to be “the Vehicle!”
    Remember that key will open the door to Clemson anytime you can drop in!
    Love to all of you!
    Joan Borick
    Clemson, SC

  3. On October 12th, 2008, Julianna Ellis said:

    Definitely one of the best days of my life. I’m so glad y’all enjoyed it as much as I did. :]
    You touched the lives of so many here in Clemson and I for one am going to try and spread the word about DGW and DMD to everyone I meet.
    Best of luck. God Bless.

  4. On October 12th, 2008, Logan said:

    So glad to see all of our Clemson friends are checking out the blog!

    We would be really grateful if you helped us share the blog with anybody who might have been involved in this incredible day.

    Also, miniature-crew (Are you getting this?), as soon as we get to a place with a little better internet signal (we’re on the road to NY), we’ll share or put up one of the pictures we all took together.

    about to eat the last piece of left-over cake….

    Keep us in the loop, Clemson!

  5. On October 12th, 2008, William Spitler said:

    Hey, just wanted to thank y’all for coming to Clemson. It was an honor to have you, and it was a day we’ll never forget. If you’re ever in the neighborhood, come back and visit, we’d love to have you here again. I hope y’all aren’t too worn out and that you had a good time watching the ‘Dawgs beat Tennessee hahaha.

    -William Spitler

    PS-If y’all want anything else drawn, all you have to do is ask and I’ll mail it to you.

  6. On October 13th, 2008, Dee (Daniel) Scarborough said:

    Hi to everyone ~
    How much fun it is to have this and the tribute to the awesome day we had !!!!!!! Thank you Darius and all of the crew members for becoming part of my life and enriching us all. I am not sure anyone has touched me in the ways that you have ~ God Bless each of you. Best of luck and safety in all of your travels, and I look forward to seeing all of you again soon!!!! Thank you again for the wonderful day at Clemson ~ I am proud to have been a part of the day ~ and glad that “no one can rain on our parade” !!!!!
    Dee Scarborough
    toccoa, ga

  7. On October 13th, 2008, Michelle Godfrey said:

    Hey Guys!
    Clemson needs a little more rain… think you could turn around and come back??? :)
    The Mayor and I were both speechless on Thursday! It was difficult to explain the compassion that we experienced with you all on Wednesday. Your visit will leave a lasting impression in our memory, as well as the City of Clemson! Thank you for allowing the Mayor and I to tag along…and the movie was great! I FINALLY got to see it! You guys keep the coffee flowing for Daniel, and have a safe journey North. Please visit again soon!
    ~ Michelle Godfrey

  8. On October 13th, 2008, DariusGoesWest said:

    Hey WIlliam, We might take you up on that drawing offer.

    We also wanted to point out to Clemson in general that your screening brought you within five DVDs of putting South Carolina on the leader board! That’s pretty amazing… and um…we’ll be letting Ohio know that you are right on their tail.

  9. On October 13th, 2008, Carol Pelletier said:

    Hey Darius and great crew. It was such a pleasure meeting all of you. I have already started spreading the word by sending out a short summary of your crusade to everyone in my address book. I am hoping this will encourage them to go on-line and purchase your inspiring DVD. I’m glad you’re enjoying the last bit of cake. Erin and I had a wonderful time creating it. I wish you could see the hilarious pictures of us in the process of making the cake…we were quite a sight. I hope you will visit us soon again and good luck on your travels.

    Carol Pelletier

  10. On October 13th, 2008, christine lightsey said:

    Hey guys- so glad to hear you enjoyed your stop in our little town. Robby, along with his dad and I loved spending the day with you. I am so glad you got to ride, come to our school, our church etc…. you guys are all very special. Know that even though you have left us, we are still working for your cause and trying to spread the word. We hope to have you back toward the end of school to show you what we have done. :-)
    Robby thinks he needs to just hop on the RV with you Daniel and help you drive/ride and be crazy. You guys have made a lifelong impression on him, that he will forever be changed. Thank you!

  11. On October 13th, 2008, Anna lightsey said:

    Hey, its Anna Lightsey from the mini-crew.We miss yall.Please come back to Clemson soon.Don’t forget to put up the pics. of the mini-crew.Yall are sooooo awesome.Thanks for coming!!:-)

  12. On October 15th, 2008, maekayla said:


  13. On October 16th, 2008, Russell N. said:

    Hey Everyone I just wanted to let everyone know how much fun I had with Darius and the “crew”. It sure was a fun filled day and it wore me out. Thank you Soooo much for coming to Clemson Darius and Crew and PLEASE come back soon!

    Russell N.

  14. On October 17th, 2008, Stacy Belue said:

    Just wanted to say thanks so much for coming by SKins’ and having lunch with us! Hope next time y’all are in town you stop by! WE enjoyed every minute of it!

  15. On October 19th, 2008, Virginia Ellis said:

    That was the best day of my life!! I wish you guys would come back again soon! We all miss you so much! I’m having so much trouble writing something to explain how amazing you guys are!! our such an insperation, Darius! We love you!!

  16. On October 19th, 2008, Logan said:

    Thanks Virginia!

    Clemson, it is so cool that you are all commenting and sharing this blog. This extended sense of community is exactly what we are trying to create.

    I hope you will all consider subscribing so that as our journey continues the idea generating conversation does as well. It is so great to know that you are all riding with us!

  17. On October 27th, 2008, Emma Fowler said:

    Hey Guys,
    We miss you guys so much!!! We hope you are having fun wherever you are (haha). That day you guys came most definently changed our lives forever and probably many others!!! We miss yall’ come back soon!!!
    Love Yall’
    Emma, Owen, Ian, Stacy, and Tim Fowler

  18. On October 29th, 2008, Mimi and Emma said:

    Come back soon!
    (pretty please with sugar and a cherry on top!!!!)

    :-) :) :D :):-)

    Love Mimi and Emma~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

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