More than two years after a bizarre flesh-eating bacteria forced the amputation of parts of all of her limbs, Aimee Copeland continues her remarkable recovery, punctuated by her passion for charity and fundraising efforts.
"I almost can't even relate to that person (I was before the accident)," said Copeland, now 26 years old. "I have changed so dramatically, my whole view on life has changed."
Copeland sustained the life-altering injury when the zip line she was riding in May of 2012 broke, plunging her into a creek. She suffered a massive gash on her leg, allowing an aggressive bacteria to get into her system. Doctors ultimately had no choice but to amputate both of her hands, all of her left leg, and part of her right leg.
Since the devastating injury, Copeland has trained herself to type on a computer, get dressed, drive a car, and kayak on some of the most challenging rivers in the southeast. Her biggest point of pride, however, is the charity work she finds herself immersed in seemingly every day of the year.
"It's very healing for me," said Copeland. "A part of my recovery is actually helping others. I find that by helping others, I actually help myself most of all."
She serves on the boards of FODAC and Tools For Life, nonprofit organizations committed to helping people afflicted by serious injuries and medical conditions. Copeland has also committed herself to dozens of individual fundraisers, helping people in need of medical equipment or treatment.
Her most recent involvement is with the Reising family of Gainesville. Karl Reising, 60, suffered a massive stroke in May, and will need a $10,000 chairlift in his home to get around. Copeland, unsolicited by the Reising family, offered to throw her full support behind the family.
"Unlike me, Karl has not had any contractors step up and say we're going to help build your home," said Copeland. "If Karl can get the resources he needs, there's no telling where he'll be in one or two years."
She helped set up a fundraising website, and is also involved in a benefit concert for the family this Saturday in Gainesville. If you'd like to attend and support the Reising family, the concert starts at 7 p.m. on Aug. 16 at the Brenau Amphitheatre. Tickets are $25 at the door.
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