“You have to stand up for something, or fall for anything.”
At least, that is how my friend, Cody Unser, puts it. At the age of 12, she was playing basketball at her middle school when she collapsed suddenly on the court, trying to catch her breath and with a huge migraine. Her legs felt numb, and she had to be carried to the locker room to lie down while an ambulance was called.
That was the last time Cody walked. Cody was diagnosed with a rare neurological disorder, transverse myelitis. As the daughter of racing champ Al Unser, Jr., Cody had the unique opportunity to reach out to others whose lives have been affected by paralysis. When she was 13, Cody and her mom, Shelley, began the Cody Unser First Step Foundation, to raise funds for research into paralysis, while simultaneously generating awareness of transverse myelitis.
Now 22, Cody has done so much from lobbying Congress in support of stem cell research, to become a certified SCUBA diver, to starting a program that trains certified SCUBA instructors to work with paralyzed individuals. She has also worked with injured veterans to teach them how to dive, as well.
I was fortunate enough to see her documentary, “CODY: The First Step,” when it was shown at the Orlando Film Festival in November. For an entire semester, Cody allowed cameras to document almost every aspect of her life, in order to present an intimate and moving portrait of life in a wheelchair.
The foundation has close ties with the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation, who have been fighting for paralysis and continue to do so, years after their founders’ passing.
So, in light of the First Step Foundation’s amazing accomplishments and its goals for the future, I am officially reaching out to my friends for moral support. It would be great if they could spread the word however possible about my humble little blog, so that others with a physical challenge can learn about it, and those who don’t have a physical challenge can gain some sense of what our lives are like.
You can find out much more about the Cody Unser First Step Foundation at: http://www.cufsf.org/
God Bless you, Cody! And, may God Bless you all,