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Cody Unser

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    Cody Unser

    In the late afternoon of Friday, February 5, 1999, Cody was at 6th grade basketball practice in Albuquerque when she began to feel excessively tired, had difficulty catching her breath, developed a pounding headache and her legs felt heavy, numb and "tingly". She was taken to the emergency room at Presbyterian Hospital and sent home after evaluation.

    The next morning, Feb. 6, Cody was unable to walk and returned to the hos pital, paralyzed below her chest. The mysterious symptoms were diagnosed as Transverse Myelitis, a rare but often paralyzing -- and sometimes fatal -- spinal cord inflammation.

    It was April before she returned home. Two years later, Cody looks at her continuing paralysis as an opportunity to help others. She gets around well in a custom-fit "Quickie" wheelchair and is energized in her quest to build awareness of TM, promote cooperation among researchers and cure paralysis.

    She has become a certified scuba diver, formed a foundation (with the help of NASCAR star Bobby Labonte), introduced mega-group SmashMouth in its 1999 Albuquerque concert, was the guest of Luc Longley at a Phoenix Suns game, met pop group "N' Sync" in Phoenix, received a citation from the New Mexico Speaker of the House, attended the Miami Project's "Sports Legends" dinner in New York City and was a guest at Christopher Reeve's birthday party.

    Cody was awarded Prudential's prestigious 2001 "Spirit of America Award" for New Mexico middle-schoolers. She also was the keynote speaker for the 2000 Amy Biehl Youth Spirit Award program in Albuquerque and the 2001 New Mexico 4-H Leadership Conference.

    Currently finishing eighth grade at the Bosque School, Cody lives in Albuquerque with her mom Shelley, sister Shannon and brothers Al and Joey.

    In September 1999 the Cody Unser First Step Foundation was created to generate awareness of Transverse Myelitis and promote communication nationally among hospitals and researchers who are trying to understand the condition.NASCAR star Bobby Labonte serves as Honorary Chairman (see the "<> Mission Statement" page).

    Please look around the website to learn more about Cody and the First Step Foundation. We warmly invite you to share your thoughts in the Guestbook, and if you care to contribute to this effort, information can be found under "<> Contacts and Donations."

    In a world with too few heros and the young ones all seem to be gangster rappers, Cody is a real heroine. I met her recently at the Transverse Myelitis Symposium in Baltimore. At an age when girls do not like to talk about things like what size shoe they wear or who they like, Cody speaks frankly about how her best friends kept her going when her bowels and bladder weren't paying any attention to her at all. Her Mother tells tales of how she still raises hell with her brothers--yellow, um, water balloons.....gotta love it! She zooms through rooms on her back wheelie bars, front castors never touching down and yet, just when you think she likes this place she is currently in, out comes how paralysis sucks. We need more young people like Cody who get involved and go visit congressmen and women, senators, yell, shout and raise money for cures. She is not someone I will soon forget, that is for sure.
    Courage doesn't always roar. Sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying, "I will try again tomorrow."

    Disclaimer: Answers, suggestions, and/or comments do not constitute medical advice expressed or implied and are based solely on my experiences as a SCI patient. Please consult your attending physician for medical advise and treatment. In the event of a medical emergency please call 911.