Bosque graduate, Cody Unser ’05, was the keynote speaker at the PARTNERS 2013 “Share the Care” Spring Luncheon to benefit the University of Texas School of Nursing at Houston on April 24, 2013.
At age 12, Cody was diagnosed with transverse myelitis, a rare condition in which the immune system attacks the spinal cord. She survived the attack but was left paralyzed from the chest down. A year after her diagnosis, when she was barely a teenager, Cody and her mother Shelley Unser, founded the Cody Unser First Step Foundation--a global, not-for-profit organization that raises research funds and promotes public awareness and quality of life for those with all forms of spinal cord related paralysis.
With 420 guests in attendance at the “Share the Care” luncheon, Cody presented a video of a 2011 CBS documentary with Dr. Sanjay Gupta, showing that some paralyzed patients had improved feeling and function after they had been scuba diving. As a quality-of-life advocate, a proponent of therapeutic scuba diving, and a certified scuba diver, Cody founded “Cody Unser’s Great Scuba Adventures,” a program that has proven therapeutic benefits for people with spinal cord injuries. According to an article by Ronda Wendler in the Texas Medical Center News, Cody explained, “Scuba diving is the best feeling in the world. Being free from gravity and free from a wheelchair provides much-needed relief. It allows you to shut off the world above and any doubts about what you are able to accomplish in this world. Plus, fish don’t discriminate.”
Over the years, Cody has testified before state legislatures and Congress to promote stem cell research and has traveled the country fulfilling a series of speaking engagements. In 2009, she earned a bachelor’s degree in Biopolitics--which fuses science and politics--from the University of Redlands in California. Currently, Cody is seeking a master's degree in Public Health at George Washington University, while also looking for new ways to influence politics and policy-making on behalf of medical research, women's health, and disability rights issues.