"Changing Lives One Dive at a Time"

“Changing Lives One Dive at a Time”…the Film & New Campaign is OUT!

This film documents what’s possible for kids and adults with disabilities.  For those of you that supported our last campaign to get the kids from Indiana to the ocean in Key Largo, FL…here is the result.  We hope that by viewing and sharing this film, you will be inspired to donate to our next campaign.  Our campaign now is to “RINSE & REPEAT” and include people from all over the country for future life changing SCUBA Diving trips.  We are still an organization that does not charge the person with a disability to try SCUBA Diving which launches them into other things in life they once doubted was possible.  Your donation will go directly to our efforts of this continued powerful movement of improving the quality of life of those with disabilities. 

The Cody Unser First Step Foundation Adaptive SCUBA Journey

Cody Unser, CUFSF founder began her journey living with Transverse Myelitis resulting in SCI at the age of 12, thrown into the spotlight with a famous last name; she embraced the opportunity to make a difference. In October 1999, the Cody Unser First Step Foundation was established in Albuquerque, NM. Cody evolved the foundation to include Quality of Life through an Adaptive SCUBA Program that developed into Cody’s Great Scuba Adventures, which facilitates scuba diving trips to provide participants with disabilities from all over the country with scuba instruction, and Open Water certification.

CUFSF Adaptive SCUBA Program began with Cody and her family becoming certified divers in 2001 and the SCUBA program expanded in 2007 when CUFSF created “Operation Deep Down” the Dive Team for CUFSF. This “heart centered” volunteer Dive Team is staffed with PADI (Professional Association of Dive Instructors) Master Instructors as well as a Handicapped SCUBA Association (HSA) course director.

In the last 18 years, CUFSF has given thousands of individuals with disabilities the experience of SCUBA Diving in community and rehabilitation pools, aquariums, disability related camps/retreats and on ocean dive trips.  During these years, Cody has been helping the dive industry to integrate people with disabilities into the sport that has become not only therapeutic but allowed Cody freedom from her chair.  She has become a PADI AmbassaDiver and her vision for CUFSF is to serve kids and adults with disabilities and to encourage the dive industry along with the medical industry to continue evolving this sport by conducting medical SCUBA Diving studies. This will reinforce and add to the first conventional SCUBA study CUFSF conducted in 2011 on Paralyzed Veterans.

Knowing that Cody dove in the ocean and is a PADI Advanced Open Water SCUBA certified Diver only inspires the individuals we serve to emulate her independence, courage, and accomplishments.  CUFSF SCUBA program also encourages the participant with a disability to pick a loved one of their choice to learn with them so that they can experience SCUBA Diving for a lifetime. This program is more than just a sporting activity, it is a life lesson that demonstrates accessibility, inclusion, independence, and shows our participants that there are no boundaries and no limits to what they can achieve in life.
“Changing Lives One Dive at a Time” CUFSF Adaptive SCUBA Program Will Accomplish the Following:

For the Individual: this program will help them to further their independence, maneuver in the “real world”, show them possibilities in new environments, manage their own care, and train them to be Open Water SCUBA Divers where they can dive independently outside of our program and be active in a sport for a lifetime

For the Dive Industry: this program will provide an example of individuals with disability participating in a sport that was once “off-limits” or thought to be “too risky”. It will demonstrate that individuals with disabilities are able to learn to SCUBA Dive and can participate in mainstream sports with little risk to the diver and those who dive with them. It removes apprehension from an industry that once served a specific population and will show that there are people with disabilities that want a new level of quality of life, beyond basic needs.

For the Medical Community: this program will provide doctors with a new environment for research and to consider new hypothesis based on participant experiences; physical and occupational therapists with a new modality and therapy tool to consider for mobility challenged patients; mental health professionals with feedback on sensory environments; and camp counselors with options for activity based sporting that promotes inclusion.

YOU have the power to “Change Lives One Dive at a Time” so please donate what you can....anything helps to make what most pople think isn't possible...SCUBA Diving with a disability!


The Cody Unser First Step Foundation


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  • Marcia Patton 
    • $100 
    • 39 mos
  • Anonymous 
    • $25 
    • 42 mos
  • Elaine Mahnke 
    • $500 
    • 42 mos
  • Synda Cavin 
    • $10 
    • 42 mos
  • Mario Andretti 
    • $500 
    • 43 mos
See all


Shelley Unser 
Albuquerque, NM
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