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Emotions, surprises during Aimee Copeland’s visit with Katie Couric today


Photo Credit: Disney-ABC Domestic Television / Ida Mae Astute

Photo Credit: Disney-ABC Domestic Television / Ida Mae Astute

Aimee Copeland greeted America for the first time Tuesday, standing tall.

Months after the deadly infection that threatened her life and forced multiple amputations, the 24-year-old Snellville woman appeared on Katie Couric’s new talk show, “Katie.” She moved slowly but surely on a prosthetic foot, assisted by a walker, as Couric nodded encouragement and blinked back tears.

“It felt pretty good,” Copeland said as she settled in. “You take for granted just looking people in the eye.”

Copeland freely discussed the rigors of rehab and the challenge of relearning simple skills like brushing her teeth. She laughed and smiled throughout the visit and sang along to the Bob Marley song “Is This Love” that played during a commercial break. Not once did her sunny personality dim.

“I love life,” she said. “It’s a beautiful thing.”

In interviews with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and Channel 2 following the television appearance — Couric’s show airs daily at 3 p.m. — Copeland talked about regaining her independence. While she’d love to eventually go camping or on a cruise, she’ll soon be driving again, thanks to the surprise donation of a vehicle from metro Atlanta car dealer Steve Rayman. She’ll be able to select a vehicle from inventory and have it retrofitted to suit her needs.

“I just want her to be a 24-year-old kid like any 24-year-old kid,” Rayman said. “She’s been an inspiration.”

The bubbly Copeland was momentarily speechless (not even her parents, who accompanied her, knew about the gift), then hugged her benefactor.

After the show

After the show

“To be able to get up and do what I want to do, it’s going to be really incredible,” Copeland said. “I just hope to live a normal life. I want to be completely independent.”

After a May zip-line accident introduced a rare, flesh-decaying bacteria into her system, surgeons had to amputate her left leg, right foot and both hands to try to save her life. In asking for her consent, her father Andy lifted Copeland’s hands — useless by then — so that she could see them and understand how dire her situation was.

“It wasn’t until my dad showed me my hands — my fingers were black, my hands were blood-red — that I realized things were going to be different,” said Copeland, who mercifully has few memories of that time. “I wasn’t in a whole lot of pain. I think my mind protected me by sort of going offline.”

Intense physical therapy at Atlanta’s Shepherd Center has her feeling more confident. She proudly noted that she can do 300 abdominal crunches; core strength helps her mobility. She also said that her senses seem more acute.

“The first time I noticed it, I was up on the parking deck at Shepherd,” she said. “Looking up at the sky, the colors were so vivid and so beautiful. It was like I had never seen the sky.”

Copeland returned home last month to a new two-story wing donated by builder Pulte Homes, built with her needs in mind. The University of West Georgia graduate student plans to get cracking soon on her master’s degree thesis (the “Katie” segment showed her using her computer with voice commands and a stylus and texting with her nose). Her thesis topic is “Wilderness Therapy for Amputees.”

“Healing often happens in nature,” Copeland said. She wants to work with other amputees, including veterans, and looks upon her ordeal as a sort of preparation.

“I’ve been really blessed to see life through a different perspective,” she said. “In the end I’ll be able to help a lot of people through what’s happened to me. Before, I wanted to help people. Now I know I can help people.”

Copeland credits a naturally positive disposition and her spirituality with helping her remain upbeat.

“On the inside, I’m still the same person. Instead of saying I’m disabled, I say I have different abilities,” she said. “Why did this happen to me? This happened to me because I could handle it.”

104 comments Add your comment

ssmith

September 11th, 2012
2:30 pm

Recording this to watch later!

Mike

September 11th, 2012
2:40 pm

Her strength, attitude, and accomplishments since this began puts everything in perspective. A true hero and someone to look up to.

John Cable

September 11th, 2012
2:48 pm

There is hope for this country……

I saw that Aimee Copeland was going to be on the show Katie…..and I had to ask ….Who or what is Katie?

how positive Aimee is after all she has gone through…She is an inspiration!!!!

Kramer

September 11th, 2012
3:05 pm

Aimee is incredible. Katie is a nimrod. Should not be on the same stage as Aimee.

GTPHISH

September 11th, 2012
3:06 pm

Bravo to this inspirational young woman.

Hershel Goldstein

September 11th, 2012
3:10 pm

There are always haters. God help all of you!

Chad Keller

September 11th, 2012
3:13 pm

September 22nd there will be an Aimee Copeland benefit concert in downtown Villa Rica. There will be vendors booths, special activities as well as live music @ the amphitheater. Aimee will be making an appearance. If you would like more details feel free to email me at chadkeller13@gmail.com

Norwegian Blue

September 11th, 2012
3:35 pm

Who is Aimee Copeland? (Not trying to be a jerk, just truly don’t know, and the Buzz article didn’t bother to explain.)

Jenna

September 11th, 2012
3:38 pm

I am so in awe of Aimee Copeland! What an inspiration she is to the world. I love Katie Couric too. She’s gifted and genuine. Some of you need to go back to kindergarten and relearn “if you don’t have something nice to say, keep your big yap shut!”.

GODAWGS

September 11th, 2012
3:39 pm

Norwegian-have you been living in a hole-and i’m not trying to be a jerk!

Mackenzie Anderson

September 11th, 2012
3:40 pm

She’s so amazing :) Go Amiee, go!

Mikey

September 11th, 2012
3:48 pm

Such a beautiful young woman…..inside and out.

Sam Adams

September 11th, 2012
3:51 pm

Norwegian – you obviously have ‘net access, ever heard of Google? Jerk…

s ski

September 11th, 2012
3:53 pm

Blue she lost her hands 1 leg and both feet to flesh eating bacteria.

s ski

September 11th, 2012
3:53 pm

Enter your comments here

Andi L

September 11th, 2012
3:54 pm

Amiee is such an inspiration!

MoFaux

September 11th, 2012
3:54 pm

Norwegian Blue: Google her name and read about it. She got a nasty infection that wound up taking her feet and hands. Actually, her whole leg I think, can’t remember. Anyway, there should be plenty of articles that come up in a simple google search. Her positive attitude is what has inspired everyone. Most people would probably b!tch and complain (rightly so), but not her.

Sargon

September 11th, 2012
4:02 pm

As he is a parrot, Norwegian Blue is pining for the fjords with his claws nailed to his perch and has little media access.

Rabbit

September 11th, 2012
4:06 pm

Amy is quite an inspiration. My brother had both his legs amputated back in March, complications from kidney failure. It was very hard on everyone but I continue to tell him the updates on Amy. Iam extremely happy she’s able to walk now, but my brother has not receive his legs yet. He’s extremely depressed and unmotivated. I feel like he’s going to give up fighting

em

September 11th, 2012
4:06 pm

i love you, Hershel Goldstein

Fred ™

September 11th, 2012
4:08 pm

Norwegian Blue: All you need to do is click this blog: http://blogs.ajc.com/the-buzz/2012/09/11/aimee-copeland-to-talk-walk-with-katie-couric/

It was the one right before this one. It will give you the high points.

Rabbit

September 11th, 2012
4:09 pm

Enter your comments here

iffy

September 11th, 2012
4:11 pm

I am very happy for Aimee. No way would a black person have gotten this much help!!!

Kaye Moe

September 11th, 2012
4:13 pm

May the Lord continue to bless Aimee and her family. Her determination and spirit are unparalled!

Ron Paul 2012

September 11th, 2012
4:14 pm

Helps to be an attractive white female. It gets you all kinds of attention for stuff thousands of people go through every day.

Rabbit

September 11th, 2012
4:16 pm

Amy is quite an inspiration. My brother had both of his legs amputated due to kidney failure complications back in May. He has become depressed and unmotivated, but I continue to tell him Amy’s remarkable and uplifting story to try and motivate/encourage him. Maybe once he becomes mobile (prosthetic legs) maybe, just maybe he will stride

Really?

September 11th, 2012
4:19 pm

Really iffy you’re going to bring a race this? Maybe she got
this much help because she deserved it for being a good person
not just because she’s white! Idiot!!

Really?

September 11th, 2012
4:20 pm

Race into this is how that should have read.

SayWhat

September 11th, 2012
4:20 pm

For real? You’re bringing race into even this story? Shame on you.

Overton

September 11th, 2012
4:21 pm

Good for Amy, you go girl :-)

Guinney

September 11th, 2012
4:21 pm

Aimee is an inspiration to EVERYONE! Why in the world are some making this a black vs white issue? Shame on you for minimizing her accomplishments thus far!

almost atlanta native

September 11th, 2012
4:24 pm

It is interesting how some folks turn this into a contest of race and skin color. I have always believed and still do that people get exactly what they deserve. What do you deserve?

Cajunmade

September 11th, 2012
4:24 pm

20 bucks on that Kramer guy being a closet pedophile or a Peeping Tom.

Take2001

September 11th, 2012
4:24 pm

I am so over this story!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I just want to scream!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

REENIE

September 11th, 2012
4:25 pm

AIMEE YOU’RE REMARKABLE, I CRIED WATCHING THE SHOW SAD TEARS & HAPPY TEARS. MAY GOD BLESS YOU ALWAYS AND YOU’RE SPECIAL FAMILY. YOU ARE A INSPIRATION TO LISTEN TO AND WATCH. THANK YOU FOR SHARING YOUR JOURNEY WITH ALL. LOVE YOU, YOU REALLY LIFTED ME IN MANY WAYS

That'sRight

September 11th, 2012
4:26 pm

What about our Veterians who lose limbs?

Crazy Cat Dude

September 11th, 2012
4:26 pm

Given Aimee’s determination, I’m surprised she had to use a walker. I’m sure she won’t have it for very long.

MP123

September 11th, 2012
4:26 pm

Ron Paul 2012 and iffy – I don’t know that ‘thousands of people’ get a flesh eating disease every day. The fact that she is white and attractive has had nothing to do with how the public has responded to her – she is an inspiration despite her looks or skin color. Clearly you are the type of people that would sit around and blame others for your lot in life rather than make the best out of a negative situation such as she has.

Ron Paul 2012

September 11th, 2012
4:27 pm

Good thing you used all CAPS Reenie. Really drove the message home.

Ron Paul 2012

September 11th, 2012
4:29 pm

@Thats Right – Veterans who lose limbs arent as fun to look at so need to do fluff stories on them. Let the VA worry about them.

Dave

September 11th, 2012
4:29 pm

People go thru this kind of thing everyday? You dimwit! Maybe if youre in the service overseas! Or a vet like I am..Give us a break.,please

Take2001

September 11th, 2012
4:31 pm

There were 2 other people that had the same bacteria infection around the same time that didn’t get this much attention and what about the nurse that died recently that had 3 rounds of cancer and beat it and then died from a bacteria eating infection. Her husband couldn’t get time off and had to stop teaching where is the attention for him and the show of support. I also agree with That’sRight what about the vets??? GIVE THIS STORY A REST ALREADY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I am so tired of the praise and worship like its something brand new!!!!!!!!

Teri

September 11th, 2012
4:32 pm

She got help because her dad insistently kept her in the spotlight by being on the news and having interviews with everyone even when it was not good news. She pulled through because her family was positive and happy as well as she is. She gets it honestly. Ever heard of sqeaky wheel gets the grease?

Southern but not stupid

September 11th, 2012
4:32 pm

Seriously iffy and Ron Paul 2012? I don’t know why I let trolls such as yourself get to me but I am truly sad for you.

Love USA

September 11th, 2012
4:32 pm

Excuse me, I did not realize that she was a Hero. Was she saving a life that day? I am truly saddend that she fell & was infected with a flesh eating bacteria. A Hero is someone that saves a life.

Sheila

September 11th, 2012
4:32 pm

Look and see what God has done. Our prayers and thoughts are with you Amiee and your family. Your are blessed to have a father who loved you so much he enrolled the rest of us in praying for you. I totally agree with you, it happen because you could handle it and you will walk someone else through this very thing or something similar.

Ron Paul 2012

September 11th, 2012
4:33 pm

Take2001 is one of those “it” getters.

Dave- you’re not a vet. Maybe an animal doctor. But please stop lying and disgracing actual veterans.

Sam Adams

September 11th, 2012
4:36 pm

If you’re tired of the story, why’d you read and comment about the damned thing?

Dave

September 11th, 2012
4:39 pm

I was in the 101st 2/327 NO SLACK infantry in Hue up near the DMZ..Decorated…With Pride

Walter Little, Jr.

September 11th, 2012
4:40 pm

Having survived a condition – hydrocephalus – that the doctor’s said would shorten my life, I appreciate Aimee’s positive outlook on life. She is a wonderful inspiration!