INDIANAPOLIS (September 22, 2003) - Struck suddenly with Transverse Myelitis and bound to a wheelchair, Cody Unser has been the epitome of fortitude after being diagnosed with the condition at the age of 12. The daughter of former CART champion...
INDIANAPOLIS (September 22, 2003) - Struck suddenly with Transverse Myelitis and bound to a wheelchair, Cody Unser has been the epitome of fortitude after being diagnosed with the condition at the age of 12.
The daughter of former CART champion Al Unser Jr. and sister to current Barber Dodge Pro Series racer Albert Unser, Cody has used her circumstances to help raise awareness among researchers that are pursuing a cure for the condition - including the formation of the Cody Unser First Step Foundation.
The 16-year-old, who lives in Albuquerque with her mother Shelley, has accomplished many things since the onset of the condition including becoming a certified SCUBA diver, and will add one more thing to her growing list as she will drive one of the Ford trucks on the ceremonial victory lap at the conclusion of the September 28 Grand Prix Americas Presented by Sportsbook.com.
"Born an Unser, apparently we're bred with the 'need for speed' gene. I traveled with my brother to many of his races this season, and this is where I became convinced I could drive on a track too - especially after seeing Alex Zanardi drive a Champ Car in Germany this year," Cody said. "The fact that this is taking place in Miami, where I've learned from a great team at The Miami Project on overcoming mobility challenges, involving friends like Emerson Fittipaldi (Honorary Co-Chair of the Grand Prix Americas Foundation), friends that I have grown up with in a racing family, well, it makes this very special. I can't thank CART, Ford Motor Company, and its Mobility Motoring Division, enough for this opportunity."
Unser will pilot a truck fitted with her own hand controls and will carry the three top finishers in the Champ Car World Series event on a victory lap at the end of the 135-lap race. She will ride with former racer and series Chief Steward Wally Dallenbach, who will take time during the week to help Unser become familiar with the truck as well as the 1.15-mile Miami street circuit.
"It's a great opportunity from a perspective that anyone can overcome their obstacles and get out on the track," said Ford Mobility Segment Specialist Anna Zevalkink. "Cody is a great ambassador and we are pleased to be able to work with her and help display her remarkable spirit."
For more information on the Cody Unser First Step Foundation go to the foundation website, codysfirststep.org, or call (505) 890-0086.