Price: $310.00

    Code: 2360

    Directed by Chris Schueler
    2009, 69 minutes
    Purchase: $310| Classroom Rental: $125

    Cody Unser, daughter of two-time Indianapolis 500 winner Al Unser, collapsed one day while playing basketball. Within 20 minutes she was paralyzed. Cody was eventually diagnosed with Transverse Myelitis, a rare neurological disorder that attacks the spinal cord. The film interweaves home video of Cody as a child with segments of the struggle that she faces daily living with a disability.

    However, for this strong-willed woman it is not enough to simply talk about her condition: she is fighting for the ability to walk again. As founder of the Cody Unser First Step Foundation, she speaks at schools and public forums, and meets with politicians and policy-makers to lobby on behalf of stem cell research, which she believes is her key to one day walk again. The First Step Foundation aims to bridge the gap between politicians and scientists.

    Though a personal story of one woman's daily struggles, the viewer also sits in on meetings and discussions that are shaping the face of not just science but politics as well, and come to understand how Cody's story affects us all.

    Subjects & Collections

    Festivals & Awards

    *Winner, "Best Documentary," Dark River Film Festival, 2009
    *Official Selection, Orlando International Film Festival, 2009
    *Official Selection, Ft. Lauderdale International Film Festival, 2009
    *Official Selection, Santa Fe International Film Festival, 2009


    “Informational and emotionally direct, Cody: The First Step is a succinct 66-minute portrait of life in a wheelchair whose steadfast subject has made it her mission to raise awareness — and research dollars — in the name of finding a cure for all spinal-cord-related paralysis…. Her prevailing optimism is at times countered by introspective moments in which she discusses her troubles and doubts, and, even more candidly, her sexuality, shattering notions that those with paralysis are not sexual beings. Personal-affliction documentaries are a dime a dozen; seldom are they this gripping and inspiring.” – Laura Kern, The New York Times

    “Highly recommended. Cody: The First Step will not only will appeal to the general public as a consciousness-raising tool, but has a place in academic institutions as a teaching tool for those in health sciences and rehabilitation programs… Cody Unser is a remarkable woman. Sure, she grew up in a more privileged environment and had access to the best care, and is a gorgeous, bright, charming young woman—but the fact that she made this film, letting the world see the struggles (physical, emotional, and mental) of everyday life in a wheelchair, speaks to the incredible determination she has to help make progress in neurological medical research happen. Filmmaker Chris Schuler has created a first-rate program—one that deserves wider viewing on major networks (PBS?). The intricacies of life for a paraplegic, the medical research aspects and the intertwining of politics, medicine and the power of the individual make this film highly recommended for academic health sciences library collections, particularly those with concentrations in neuroscience, rehabilitation and disability studies. “ - Educational Media Reviews Online

    “Three stars. An inspiring profile… doesn’t shy away from discussing day-to-day details that some documentaries about paralysis omit – related to bathing and sexual desire for instance – this is recommended.” - Video Librarian