Al Unser Jr.'s Daughter Hospitalized; Unser to Miss IROC Race
11 February 1999
Editor's Note: It was announced in Daytona this week that NASCAR Winston Cup Driver Bobby Labonte will drive in Friday's IROC Race at Daytona, taking the place of Al Unser, Jr. The substitution was made because Unser's daughter has become ill. The following press release from AUJ Motorsports, INC. explains the situation. FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE February 10, 1999. Albuquerque, NM - Cody Michelle Unser, 12 year old daughter of Shelley and Al Unser Jr., became ill on Friday, February 5, 1999 and has been hospitalized in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Cody's condition is being evaluated by Dr. Edward C. Benzel, Professor and Chief, Division of Neurosurgery at the University of New Mexico Health Science Center and Dr. Douglas Barret, a neurologist with Presbyterian Hospital in Albuquerque. According to Dr. Benzel, "Cody Unser has a rare condition called transverse myelitis which has caused paralysis of her legs. Transverse myelitis is itself non-specific, but alludes to the fact that a part of the spinal cord is involved (transverse) and there is "presumed" inflammation of the spinal cord (myelitis). The precise cause of transverse myelitis is infrequently identified. A history of a previous viral illness such as a common cold suggests a viral cause in some cases (this may be the case with Miss Unser)." Miss Unser is currently undergoing further diagnostic studies. Her current condition is stable. Recovery is cautiously accepted and can be seen within two weeks or after a year or more. A rehabilitation program is currently being planned for Miss Unser. This program will most likely begin within a week." Arrangements are being made for Cody Unser to be transferred to a rehabilitation facility in Albuquerque in the next week to further monitor her progress.