Transverse Myelitis Association
Volume 4 Issue 1
March 2001

Page 18
California TM Support: Irwindale Raceway, Thanksgiving Day, 2000
Deborah Capen


Beginning in September, a race car driver by the name of Ken Smith contacted the TMA after seeing the CBS 48 Hours show featuring young Cody Unser and her struggles after her diagnosis of TM. Ken felt compelled to get involved in some way to promote awareness of TM and with his connections in the racing community was able to set up racing events throughout the country. The first of these events was going to be held at Irwindale Raceway in Irwindale, California on Thanksgiving Day.

Through the communications with Ken, the people at Irwindale Raceway graciously offered a substantial discount admission to all TMA members who wished to attend this event, making it a great opportunity to meet others with TM. There was a small group of us that attended the races, and it was really exciting to watch. The sports cable channel, ESPN, taped the race, and Cody Unser and her mother, Shelley, were there to make sure that the public learned about TM. We all had the opportunity to meet this adorable, happy girl with such a contagious upbeat attitude. Shelley is backing up Cody with her wishes to dedicate her life to raising research funding along with awareness of TM through Cody's First Step Foundation. We all know what Cody is living with day to day, and to see the energy that she is putting forth is inspiring.

The most rewarding part of the day, for me, was being able to meet with the small group of TMA members that came for the races. Our personal sharing of experiences, both humorous and emotional, brought us close together. Thanksgiving has always been a time that our entire family gets together and has a big turkey dinner with all the trimmings. This year we had the opportunity to get together with our TM family, thanks to the people at Irwindale Raceway and to Ken Smith.

A big thank you goes to all of you who came and shared that day with my husband, Michael, and myself.

And a very special thank you to Debbie and Michael who sacrificed their Thanksgiving with their family to organize the meeting of the Southern California TMA members.
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