Summit Electric Supply, Albuquerque, presented the 2012 Adult Good Samaritan Real Hero Award to Cody Unser of First Step Foundation at the 4th Annual American Red Cross Real Heroes Breakfast and Awards on May 22. “Summit was honored to be a sponsor of Real Heroes and recognize Cody Unser for her continued dedication to her foundation and to helping disabled individuals,” said Sheila Hernandez, V.P. of marketing at Summit, who presented Unser's award during a breakfast ceremony at the University of New Mexico's Student Union ballroom. Accepting on behalf of Unser, daughter of race car legend Al Unser Jr., was his daughter, Michelle Monsam of the First Step Foundation.
Unser was diagnosed with Transverse Myelitis at age 12, an autoimmune disease that left her paralyzed from the chest down. But in 2000, she and her mother started the Cody Unser First Step Foundation and launched the programs “Cody's Great Scuba Adventure” and “Operation Deep Down,” which use scuba diving as a tool for therapeutic, psychological and physical benefits for disabled military veterans. With the help of New Mexico Department of Veteran Services, Paralyzed Veterans of America, Newman's Own Foundation, and the Challenged Athletes Foundation, Unser's foundation raised $75,000 for a one-week pilot study in the Cayman Islands on the neurological and psychological effects of scuba diving for disabled individuals.