What would you do if at 12 years old you found yourself with a pounding headache that came out of nowhere while you were on the basketball court with friends, and the next thing you knew, you were lying on your back in the locker room with your legs going numb?
That’s what happened to Cody Unser, the daughter of legendary Indy racer Al Unser Jr. Now 26, Cody is the face of the Cody Unser First Step Foundation, has lobbied for spinal cord injury research extensively in Washington, DC. and is the leading proponent of diving for people with spinal cord injuries, as a way to restore nerve function (which is something Cody discovered herself after her injury).
Why she’s fearless
What Cody’s done after her spinal cord injury (which was caused by Tranverse Myelitis btw; a neurological syndrome that can be caused by viral infections) is certainly blog worthy, let alone Hollywood worthy (her story has already been made into a documentary, Cody: The First Step).
With the help of her family, she’s been able to do several awesome things after injury, one of the most transformative for her has been scuba diving. She loves scuba so much she began to schedule group diving events for people with disabilities, which she still does today.
But amazingly, when Cody first began diving, she noticed she could feel more in areas of her body that were numb before, as well as move a little bit more below her injury.
Although the affects only lasted a week after the dive, Cody knew she was on to something, so she put together a team of researchers (with the help of the Christopher and Dana Reeve foundation) to conduct a one-time study.
They brought several people with spinal cord injuries out diving and nearly everyone reported the same results (read more about this here). I love that Cody is using her top-tier contacts to help make a difference for not only herself, but for others in the same boat.
And Cody has also raced cars after her injury (kind of hard to avoid when your dad is a former NASCAR driver). In 2007, Cody raced at the Redi Auto Track Challenge using Soft Touch hand controls. And when she’s not racing, Cody drives an Audi A3 (gotta love those Audi’s).
Cody was honored in 2012 by the Red Cross for her foundation’s pioneering scuba study, and they have several scuba events planned. If interested in seeing if diving can do the same things for you, make sure to check out her site or like the foundation on Facebook.
There’s so much more to Cody than a pretty face and her famous last name. She is resilient, determined and almost as fierce as a F1 series racecar.
What do you love most about Cody? Have you gone scuba diving post-injury?
Watch the videos!