Amazing and blessed...
An interview with Aimee Copeland
By Beth Volpert
One year ago, a father put a request for prayers for his daughter on Facebook. That simple request, made during a time of unimaginable stress, took off and brought prayers, blessings and concerns from all around the globe in a matter of hours. Locally, in their home community of Snellville, GA,
the Copeland family could not have known at the time what a phenomenal impact their daughter’s injury and recovery would have on them and the whole of Gwinnett County.
The news of Aimee’s injury and the frightening Necrotizing Fasciitis that eventually caused the amputation of all four of her limbs in varying degrees, became a worldwide story in a matter of a few days. The family was suddenly in the spotlight, and according to Andy Copeland, that was part of the path to Aimee’s healing.
One year later, Aimee is driving herself to public speaking events and has graciously allowed herself to be the subject of study for how to live life to the fullest as an amputee. “Before the accident,” recalls Aimee. “I was working on my master’s degree in psychology. When I finish with that, I want to go on to get my master’s in social work.” These degrees, combined with Aimee’s love for nature and her desire to help others has brought her closer to her dream of bringing Wilderness Therapy to those who might not otherwise know the peace she has found to be an important missing part of traditional psychology. “I always knew that I wanted to be a therapist, but I had not identified the population I wanted to work with.” After her accident, it appeared to Aimee that the population who would be best served by her work would be those with disabilities. For many people with physical disabilities, the experience of nature is not easy. “Ecopsychology” is a growing trend in therapeutic options and Aimee feels very strongly that she was meant to bring the experience to those who have mobility challenges.
While the details of her injury and recovery have brought her life into the spotlight, Aimee sees this as a blessing. “I am asked to speak at many events,” says Aimee. “I can’t get to all of them, but my dad is also speaking quite often and he does an amazing job.” As a South Gwinnett graduate, Aimee was especially delighted to participate in the 2013 Gwinnett County Public Schools Middle School Special Olympics. She was honored to start the games with an enthusiastic, “Let the games begin!” alongside fellow graduate, Buck Lanford of Good Day Atlanta. “Aimee is just amazing,” says Buck. “I am honored to be here today with her.” The experience was a heartwarming homecoming for Aimee. “I am delighted to be able to inspire these very special Olympians,” says Aimee. “I love to see them work so hard to reach their goals. It really was a moment of Comet Pride.”
Reaching goals is of great importance to both Aimee and her family. It was a major theme in a speech given at The Salvation Army of Gwinnett’s Annual Luncheon, “It Takes More than Hands to Make a Home”. In his speech, Andy Copeland retold the story of how the community came together to welcome Aimee home as she recovered. It was a joyful story of hard work, faith and perseverance that Aimee confirmed in her remarks to the audience. “Without this experience, I might not have had the ability to have as much of an impact on others’ with physical challenges,” says Aimee. “Because of the accident, I am able to reach more people in a positive way.”
Her ten-year goal is to open a practice of her own based on the principles she has studied regarding “Ecopsychology”. Having watched her, in the press, on Facebook and in person, there is no doubt that when Aimee Copeland sets a goal, it will be reached. The path may be altered just slightly from the original plan, but the goals remain remarkably and faithfully intact.