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Denver kids experience freedom from their wheelchairs through scuba diving

Posted on: 8:55 pm, January 10, 2014, by , updated on: 09:56pm, January 10, 2014

By Heather Mills

DENVER — On Friday, a handful of kids got to experience something unique; the freedom of mobility. They’re experiencing it through scuba diving.

FOX31 Denver caught up with a woman who’s been paralyzed for 15 years, but she says she’s not going to let her wheelchair define her. She’s out to raise awareness and show kids that scuba diving is something everyone can do, no matter their age.

The Denver Aquarium is a magnificent sight to anyone, but for one nine-year-old, the magic within the water holds a bigger promise. Ty Wierl’s dad, Tyler, said, “Coming from where he was almost a year ago now, we’re just thankful to have him.”

In February 2013, Ty was diagnosed with Transverse Myelitis. It’s a rare condition that affects the spine. “Devastating,” Wierl said describing his son. “He was in the hospital for three months.”

Desperate for answers, Ty’s parents found the Cody Unser First Step Foundation. Unser also has TM and started the foundation to raise awareness and give hope. Unser said, “It just lets you know that life goes on.”

Unser is doing that through scuba diving. She came to Denver to show this group of adventure-seekers from all over the U.S. that the water offers endless possibility. “Being paralyzed and going through the bladder and bowel stuff and medication, that doesn’t matter,” Unser said. “It’s getting in the water and really feeling the freedom of it.”

A freedom Ty can’t wait to experience. “I like swimming,” he said. His dad added, “He’s been talking about it for weeks. He’s been really excited about it. He’s always loved the water.”

For Unser, it’s motivation to keep pushing forward.  “It’s just the coolest experience to see the smiles on their faces, they’re out of their chair and I just remember that first feeling for me.”

For Ty, it’s just the beginning.  “He’s an amazing kid. I couldn’t ask anymore of him,” his dad said.

Ty said he wants to be a marine biologist when he grows up. He says he’s ready to start scuba diving right away.


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