Andy Copeland: Daughter is doing “remarkably well”
By Stephanie Johns
Andy Copeland, father of Aimee Copeland, said that his daughter is doing “remarkably well” less than a year after suffering from necrotizing fasciitis from Aeromonas hydrophila, a bacteria found in fresh water.
Copeland will speak to the Madison Kiwanis group on Feb. 28. He said his talk will focus on how the community reached out and embraced the family, including mom Donna and sister Paige, at its most desperate hour.
On May 1 of last year, a zip line Aimee was on broke and dropped her into the water below. Rocks cut her left calf and allowed the bacteria to enter deep into the wound.
By May 17 Aimee had had her left leg, right foot and most of both hands amputated. She would later lose the remaining portions of each hand as well.
Copeland began a website with a blog – http://aimeecopeland.com – to offer a timeline and share details of the ordeal as it unfolded. He literally wrote the blog from the waiting room, he said.
“It’s straight from the horse’s mouth,” he said, adding that it reveals the “metamorphosis” he and his family went through.
Visitors to the site will have the chance to read about Aimee, her accident, and current and future needs she has. There are pictures showing her with family, friends and at college.
Also, they may read Copeland’s thoughts from the first “fateful” phone call notifying him of the accident to his last post on Christmas Eve 2012.
In that last post, Copeland said the family does not view what happened to Aimee as a “tragedy” but rather “a demonstration of the power of love.”
“The way we see it, God’s love permeated not only the cities and communities around us, but it engulfed the entire world,” he wrote.
He named several people who helped them modify their home to suit Aimee’s needs, from purchasing an elevator to adding an addition for her to live in.
“We are truly blessed to have run the proverbial gauntlet this year and come out on the other side,” he wrote. “Granted, we are not unscathed, but our spirits are resilient and we shall overcome this and any other obstacle placed in our way.”
Among those obstacles for Aimee: getting around from her home in Snellville to her various destinations.
“The biggest problem she’s had is coming and going as she wants,” he said. “The biggest challenge for her is dealing with what everybody deals with.”
As she has regained her health, Copeland said she has been on the go: Steve Rayman of Steve Rayman Chevrolet provided Aimee with a van.
“She’s put about 5,000 miles on that van,” he said. “It’s go, go, go.”
He noted that she goes swimming and takes yoga classes as well as hangs out with friends.
“She spends a lot of time in Atlanta,” he said.
Also, Copeland said Aimee is “really good about helping charitable organizations.”
She participated in a Martin Luther King Jr. event at Morehouse College and will serve as grand marshal at the South Gwinnett High School Special Olympics.
She will be master of ceremonies at an event to be held at Stone Mountain Park and has volunteered as a patient model for the prosthetics program at Georgia Tech.
At the end of the month she will participate in a benefit for Gwinnett Medical Center as well, to name a few.
“We have something every month,” he said. “We’re always glad to give back.”
He said they want to give back to the community that “so graciously gave to us.”
At the time of her accident Aimee was a graduate student at the University of West Georgia studying humanistic psychology with a focus on eco-psychology, according to the website.
She plans to finish that degree and pursue another master’s degree in social work.
Copeland added that Aimee wants to be fitted for prosthetics on her left side.
During a December interview with Erin Burnett on her program OutFront on CNN, Aimee said she plans to continue helping others with disabilities – emotional, spiritual, and/or physical – by bringing hope and providing advocacy.
“All I can do is just thank God that I’m here,” she said. “Over the horizon there’s always more sunshine and more love.”
Printed in the February 14, 2013 edition