Editor’s note: Andy Copeland is the dad of Aimee Copeland, the Georgia native who battled a flesh-eating bacterial infection in May 2012. Necrotizing fasciitis eventually led to the amputation of major organs, including her leg, feet, and hands.
It has now been seven months and 20 days since I received that fateful phone call from the Carrollton, GA emergency room. Our family came face-to-face with a villain called necrotizing fasciitis that tried to steal our daughter’s life. We fought that thief with the only thing we knew: A heap of love and the power of prayer. The result has been nothing short of miraculous.
In one of the first media interviews, I was asked, “How do you deal with this horrific tragedy?” I was surprised by the question because I did not — and still do not — consider our situation to be a tragedy. The senseless loss of life at Sandy Hook is a tragedy. Our hearts mourn the losses of those families and our prayers will forever remain with the survivors. Our enemy, a rare bacterial infection, was nothing compared to the hate of a mad gunman.
As I told that reporter, our situation is 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. Letters came from Asia, Europe, Australia, North and South America, all saying that Aimee has been lifted up in prayer. Complete strangers felt like lifelong friends, lifelong friends felt like family, and our extended family was akin to the warmth of the womb.
The media became our instant allies during Aimee’s recovery. I believe the media was instrumental in perpetuating the circle of love that surrounded us. Even at the height of the media frenzy, none of us were blind to the fact that a strange aura of love encapsulated our family. It was this “prayer bubble” that kept us going.
We immediately made a commitment to put the past behind us. There was nothing that could change the events that had transpired. Our only purpose was to focus entirely on the present and ensure that Aimee received whatever she needed to survive her ordeal. As for the future, we placed that squarely in God’s hands.
We were extremely blessed to have Aimee in the care of the best of surgeons and doctors I had ever met. I kiddingly nicknamed one Patch Adams and another House. They all had one main concern — the life of our daughter. They served as further proof of how beautiful the world we live in is.
The community drew even closer as Aimee gradually recovered. The community leaders of our awesome city of Snellville, GA rallied to our aid and pronounced “Aimee’s Weekend.” The city leaders raised funds that would later be used to purchase an elevator in our home.
My good friend, architect Rob Ponder, promised he would see to it that Aimee would return home to an environment that met her new needs. General contractor Casey Moon volunteered to head up the mind-numbing construction project. Then the cavalry arrived in the form of Stephen Haines and Ryan Lewis of Pulte Homes, who proceeded to build an incredible addition to our home that perfectly suited Aimee’s unique needs. Others came forward to volunteer their services. The outpouring of love and compassion from folks near and far was staggering to behold.
Now it’s Aimee’s turn to amaze and she hasn’t disappointed. She has been reaching out to others having difficulty making adjustments to their disabilities. She headed up a fundraising event to support Wellspring Living, a foundation that helps get troubled teens off the street and back into school. We have additional events planned for 2013, and we are all enthusiastic about ways we can make the world a better place.
Aimee is doing very well. She has been forced to delay her thesis for another semester because the Colorado-based Wilderness on Wheels program has gone into a winter shutdown and will be closed until mid-April. We will head there in the spring so Aimee can study the program and see how it fits with her objectives.
In the meantime, Aimee continues her physical therapy twice a week. She is also taking yoga classes and going through the process of getting fitted for a first-time prosthetic for her left leg.
This all creates a maddening schedule for her as she shuttles about from Atlanta, to Carrollton, and up to Buford. It seems that her mom Donna and I rarely see her. Thank goodness for the van that our friend Steve Rayman so graciously presented to her. Without it, I don’t know what any of us would have done (I might add that Aimee is an excellent driver).
We are truly blessed to have run the proverbial gauntlet this year and come out on the other side. Granted, we are not unscathed, but our spirits are resilient and we shall overcome this and any other obstacle placed in our way. After all, obstacles are only opportunities to demonstrate our trust in God’s power and strength. With that, how can we possibly lose?
We’ve seen first-hand the incredible love that the world can give. Love is alive, there is much to be hopeful about, and you can have faith that prayers are answered. Christmas is a time for us to celebrate the birth of our Savior and it is with a strong spirit of celebration that I share this message of hope with you. God bless you all and I hope you've enjoyed the merriest of Christmases. I know we have.