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Disability Activist Urges Obama to Escalate Stem Cell Research to End Paralysis For Millions of Americans
Date:5/15/2009

Cody Unser Comments on President Obama's Town Hall Acknowledgement of Economy's Toll on Disabled

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M., May 15 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Cody Unser, a 22-year-old student at University of Redlands and head of the Cody Unser First Step Foundation, commends President Obama for acknowledging in yesterday's town hall meeting the financial hardships of Americans living with disabilities and now strongly urges for rapid acceleration of stem cell research so that a cure can be found for paralysis. Ending the condition could potentially return millions of Americans to the workforce.

According to an April 2009 survey from the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation, more than 5.6 million Americans currently live with paralysis -- five times more than originally estimated. Given that nearly a quarter of these paralyzed Americans only have annual household incomes of $10,000 or less, it is especially important to the Cody Unser First Step Foundation that a cure for paralysis is found soon. Lofty medical expenses would diminish, employment opportunities would expand, and financial independence would boost.

Unser, who attended the town hall by invitation of Kareem Dale, Special Assistant to the President on Disability Policy, has been paralyzed since 12, and has worked closely with the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation to ensure that stem cell advocacy continues.

"I am determined to work with President Obama and his administration to bring stem cell capabilities to fruition," said Unser. "Too many Americans are living in unacceptable conditions that could be reversed with the help of this medical technology."

Set to graduate next week from the University of Redlands in Southern California, Unser will receive the nation's first undergraduate degree in biopolitics. She will use the degree to lobby the federal government for expanded awareness of -- and a cure for -- paralysis. Meanwhile, her foundation efforts will continue to focus on quality of life programs for paralyzed people, such as 'Operation Deep Down,' that uses SCUBA diving for therapeutic and psychological healing of wounded veterans. Unser is simultaneously elevating public awareness as the center of a recently released documentary entitled "Cody," which will air on PBS in July.

The Cody Unser First Step Foundation is a global not-for-profit organization dedicated to raising research funds, public awareness and quality of life for those afflicted with all forms of spinal cord-related paralysis. The Foundation will also address the cause, rehabilitation, prevention, and cure for Transverse Myelitis, and freely affiliate with other medical, charitable and corporate entities to achieve these goals. For more information, please visit www.codysfirststep.org.


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SOURCE Cody Unser First Step Foundation; University of Redlands
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