July 1st, 2006
After months of rigorous training, it was finally here. In Boswell, Pennsylvania at the Field of Dreams Motocross Park, 15 year old Darius was ready to take the prize he’d had his eyes fixed on. Though this race wasn’t too much different from the rest, Darius was used to coming out on top. The many trophies that lined his walls were a constant reminder of his racing success, and today wasn’t the day for that to stop. But it almost did.
During practice, Darius had taken this particular jump a few times successfully, but decided to take it from the outside this time - not knowing that the track crew had just watered it. As he was approaching the jump, he felt himself losing momentum, but it was already too late to bail. Half way into the air, Darius realized he wasn’t going to clear the jump, so he braced himself as best he could for impact. When the bike’s frame hit the top of the landing, the bike bounced up and ejected Darius over the handlebars, and onto the ground. Having already taken the initial hit, the bike then landed on his back, and power drove him further into the dirt. In his multiple attempts to get up, Darius’ legs just would not move. Pain washed over him and lit his back on fire - a fire that would creep into his heart and fuel his determination to ride again.
Early March, 2008
After 360+ days in the hospital, 2 major back surgeries, and daily physical therapy, it was time to get back on the bike. Having rallied help from his best friend, Daniel, to build a bike that was modified properly to both keep Darius on the bike, and allow him to have hand controls, there was nothing holding him back now. Despite protest from his family, and general public opinion that it couldn’t be done, Darius knew that this was what he had to do.
To say that the first ride was difficult would be an understatement. Physically, the odds were against him. Keeping the bike balanced during turns without the use of his legs should not have been possible. But Darius had already conquered the fight for his life, so the task of learning to balance wasn’t too daunting. However, mentally and emotionally it was overwhelming. Thankfully, his fear of getting back on the track with the same beast that took his mobility was overcome by his strong desire to do what he loved.
In the months and years that followed, riding became a regular part of Darius’ rehab routine. Through visits to the gym, physical therapy, and days full of teaching himself to drive, climb up stairs, jump on cabinets, grocery shop by himself, and most frustrating: getting back into his chair by himself, it was being on the bike that kept Darius motivated. If he could teach himself to do everyday things though he was in a wheelchair, he could teach himself to be the best rider on the track, with or without a disability.
Fast forward to 2015.
Having been cleared by the AMA as the only paralyzed racer allowed to compete in national events, Darius is now on the road to Loretta Lynns - where he will compete against able bodied riders. Going to the gym every day, and going to the track every other day to prepare for regional races has set his path for racing success. Though riding is his main focus, Darius is determined to share his zeal for life with others. His infectious smile and persistent way of life inspire every person he comes in contact with.
Now it’s time to share that motivation with people who need it the most. In times of adversity, many people put up a mental wall that keeps positivity and hope out. A lot of people look at the wall, and are discouraged by how big it is, so they turn around. But Darius has learned to climb the wall, and wants to share that knowledge with people who have lost sight of the vibrancy of life that’s on the other side. Join us as we take a message of hope and perseverance to those staring at the wall, and inspire them, as they Ride with Darius.
Visit Darius's website at www.ridewithdarius.com