“There are many more reefs I want to explore, but I can’t do that by staying ashore.”
Christopher Rush, a young man from Michigan with muscular dystrophy, exhibited one of the finest expressions of faith I’ve ever seen. He attempted to skydive, gained a license to scuba dive, and became a lawyer, with hardly any use of his arms and legs.
His short life was celebrated in a documentary called Go Far: The Christopher Rush Story, at the Niagara Film Festival on June 21st. His parents, sister and friend, Zack Arnold, who made the film, participated in a Q & A after the world premiere screening in St. Catherine’s.
I wasn’t surprised when his father told me about the family’s affiliation with the United Methodist Church. In the footage of Rush, taken from the time he was Jerry Lewis’s poster child to shortly before his death at 30 in 2007, his faith was evident. Rush was not just a poster child for MD, he was an ambassador of faith, optimism and hope.
Rush seemed to have two primary goals: to prove to the world that anything is possible when you set your mind to it, and to break down the barriers between those with an obvious physical disability and the able bodied. He was a wise-cracking extravert who refused to retreat into a corner, as many people in wheel chairs do. He was always the one to speak first—putting people at ease with a ready smile and a compassionate heart.
Images of Rush’s hero, the wise sage Yoda from the Star Wars movies, appear throughout the film. The small misshapen being managed to do amazing things like lift space ships out of the mud with his thoughts. Like Yoda, Rush accomplished Herculean tasks and he was very wise.
His friends and caregivers testified one after the other, on camera, about how he had caused them to open up their minds and appreciate what they had. Some admitted being afraid when they first met him, because they didn’t know how to interact with someone with a disability. But after they got to know him, they saw the person and not the wheel chair.
After scuba diving in the Cayman Islands, when Rush was lying in a towel on the bottom of the boat, barely able to move, he told Arnold how much we all have to thank God for. The director said that moment changed his life. He realized the importance of putting the emphasis on what we can do—not what we can’t.
Shortly before he died, Rush developed a program called “Go Far” instructing people to achieve their goals using a step by step process. Arnold hopes to bring the Go Far program, and the film, to educational facilities around the world. Angel donors are encouraged to make contributions through his web site at www.gofarmovie.com.
This is one of the best movies I’ve ever seen. Arnold is still searching for a distributor. May he find one soon so this great film can be released to a general audience.
For more information about Rush and the movie go to http://michigantoday.umich.edu/go-far-the-christopher-rush-story/ and