Nearly two years after she was released from the Shepherd Center, Aimee Copeland is embracing life without her hands, feet, and one leg.
Copeland contracted a flesh-eating bacteria that almost claimed her life after a zip line accident.
After the community came together and modified her parents’ Snellville home and provided her with a handicapped accessible van, she is doing things she never thought possible, like driving herself to Valdosta where she’s working on her second master’s degree. Other accomplishments include putting her hair in a ponytail, kayaking, and walking over a mile with her prosthetic legs.
“I feel like such a different person now,” she tells WSB’s Sandra Parrish. “It’s almost like the Phoenix born from the fire… I have a hard time even relating to myself before the accident.”
It’s that determination that led Copeland to work with several non-profits including FODAC (Friends of Disabled Adults and Children). She’s also helping raise money for friend Karl Reising, a Marine vet who is now paralyzed on one side due to a stroke.
“To me it’s like giving back; because people helped me so much, I feel like it’s my duty to spread the love and pass that along,” she says.
Copeland will participate in a fundraiser for Reising at Brenau University on Saturday. All money raised from the benefit concert will to go to help purchase and install a stair lift for his wheelchair at his Gainseville home. An online fund has also been set up to donate.
Long term, Copeland hopes to one day open a handicap-accessible nature park where people can get holistic therapy rehabilitation.
“It’s just really struck me how little outdoor areas are accessible for people in wheelchairs and I find the outdoors to be an incredibly relaxing, calming, connecting experience,” she says.
Short term, she’s looking for a handicapped accessible apartment closer into Atlanta to fulfill her need for independence.
“I’m capable of taking care of myself, it’s just taking that leap where you know no one’s going to be there if something happens and being confident in that,” she says. “I am ready to take the next step, start a new chapter, and keep living the rest of my life.