Cody Gray is just like any 20 year old young woman in that her first thought when she wakes up in the morning is, how long do I have to get ready?! Yes, we’ve all experienced that panic as we open our eyes, roll over in bed and check the time on our phones. However, the time and effort taken to shower, apply make up and pick the perfect outfit can take Cody just a little bit longer than most of us since a freak ski accident in 2014 left her a quadriplegic. This is where Cody’s team of care givers step in to lend a helping hand.
“My day starts off with my carers, waking me up at 7am and then helping me with my morning routine and to get ready. I might have uni or go back to bed and sleep if I can. If we go out during the day, I’ll go with my one of my carers too”.
If Cody’s first thought is about getting ready in the morning it quickly turns to life’s other demands. Such as studying for uni, coaching touch football or being an advocate for spinal chord research through Wings For Life. Wings For Life is a world run campaign that aims to raise awareness and money for spinal chord research, an area that the field of medicine still knows very little about.
Cody explains that the spinal chord is one of the only parts of the human body that we still don’t know a lot about and unfortunately have no idea how to fix.
“The spinal chord is super complex, which means when it is injured, it can’t be repaired. If you broke a bone in your neck you’d be fine but when the spinal chord is injured it’s a lot more difficult. There can be different levels of injury too depending on how far down the spine the injury is, so raising awareness and money for research is important.”
All of the entry fees and donations raised through the Wings For Life campaign go straight to funding vital research to find a cure for spinal chord injuries, including clinical trials and research projects. The run takes place annually all over the world with the race starting at exactly the same moment in every country. The run in Adelaide this year started at 8:30pm, whereas runners in New York or Berlin may kick off at 7 in the morning. As an ambassador for the race Cody works with Red Bull, who sponsor the charity event, to sign runners up and spread awareness in the community for the imperative need for spinal chord research.
Cody says there is a simple analogy she uses to help people understand how delicate the spinal chord is, “When the doctors explained my injury to my parents, they said that the spinal chord is like a line of toothpaste. When you touch the paste, it’s ruined and has to stay like that”. That simple fact is something Cody is hoping medical research will in time change.
For now, Cody keeps busy by studying Business Marketing and Tourism at Uni SA, which she is half way through.
“I really like my degree, hopefully I’ll do some placements next year but I’m not sure where yet. I’m not really bothered about what type of job I get at the end, I’m very open minded but managing weddings would be really cool”. Cody’s passion for touch football has also not changed since her accident, with Cody coaching her club team in the men’s opens for South Australia to a grand final win last season. What a woman! She is currently coaching her boyfriend from the sidelines, who has just taken up touch.
When asked what her dream day would look like Cody shares the hope of one day travelling overseas to Europe however, the logistics of such a trip are still pretty complicated and costly. For now Cody’s dream, perfect days involve shopping and hanging out at home with friends and family sans study and stress with her new puppy Hunter. We are sure that all of Cody’s dreams and ambitions remain firmly within her reach as this absolute Queen continues to break the mould of what a young person living with a spinal chord injury can do.
If you’d like to learn more about Cody, please follow her Instagram, which she uses as yet another platform to show the world how a young woman can live a more than full life with a physical disability.
Words by Alicia Franceschini