In a world filled with dissension, death and downright depressing news, a feel-good movie full of selfless acts stands out.
“I’ll Push You” is one such film.
Playing for only one night, Nov. 2, the documentary recounts the incredible story of two lifelong friends who embarked on a 500-mile journey in 2014 to trek the Camino de Santiago — a scenic hiking route that stretches from the mountains of France through the valleys of Spain and ends at the Cathedral in Santiago. Tradition says the Cathedral in Santiago was the burial site of the apostle James.
The catch? One of the men suffers from a progressive neuromuscular disease that prevents him from moving his arms or legs. This means he’s in a wheelchair — and that his friend will have to push him the entire way.
“I haven’t seen a friendship like that before,” says one woman who meets them on the journey.
Most of us have not either.
Patrick Gray and Justin Skeesuck were born barely 24 hours apart and have been friends since childhood. When Skeesuck was diagnosed with Multifocal Acquired Motor Axonopathy as an adult, Gray moved closer to Skeesuck so he could help take care of his friend and help with family life. (Both men are married and have children.)
“I love him like a brother,” Gray says. “He’s my closest friend.”
The idea for the trek began innocently enough, when Skeesuck was watching the TV show “Rick Steves’ Europe” and thought the Camino route looked fun. He and Gray decided to give it a shot – even though most people thought they were nuts. With rocky paths, steep hills and a treacherous desert, Camino de Santiago is challenging enough for an able-bodied person, much less a person pushing someone else in a wheelchair. In some locations, Skeesuck and the wheelchair had to be carried.
But Gray persevered on the 35-day journey with determination and love for his friend. He also had some help as fellow hikers pitched in when he was tired.
“I’ll Push You” is a pro-life, inspirational film that just might make you a better person. It teaches humility and self-sacrifice unlike any documentary I’ve watched. It also encourages us to live life with gratitude, wanting to make every day count.
Would I do that?
I walked away asking: Would I do that for someone? And would I allow someone to do that for me?
The movie is being released in tandem with a book, “I’ll Push You,” published by Tyndale Momentum. For show locations and times, visit www.fathomevents.com and search “I’ll Push You.”
“I’ll Push You” is not rated. Cautions: It includes about four coarse words (s—t, 2; d—n, 1; h–ll, 1), one joke about monks not having sex and a handful of scenes of Gray in stages of undress, although never nude.
For show locations and times, visit www.fathomevents.com and search ‘I’ll Push You.’
Meet the reviewer — Michael Foust covers the intersection of faith and entertainment as a writer and podcast host for Heirloom Audio. He also is the husband of an amazing wife and the father of four small children.
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