Alumni groups to collect blood for Aimee Copeland

The annual football clash between Georgia and South Carolina was pushed later into the season this year, but alumni groups from both universities are already taking each other on — in a blood drive honoring Snellville native Aimee Copeland, whose battle with a flesh-eating disease has made national headlines.

Copeland (a 2010 graduate of UGA and current master’s student at the University of West Georgia) gashed her left leg open after falling from a homemade zipline near Carrollton on May 1. She was infected with necrotizing fasciitis, a rare flesh-eating bacteria, and has since had her left leg, right foot and both hands amputated.

Her father, Andy, a 1983 graduate of South Carolina, has served as her voice in the media and kept the public updated through Facebook and, recently, the family’s own website.

Now alumni groups from both of their alma maters are hosting a “border bash” blood drive in Aimee Copeland’s honor. UGA will host its blood drive on campus on June 13. The event will be held at Memorial Hall from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., and at Reed Hall from 2 to 7 p.m. South Carolina’s blood drive will be held on June 11.

“The Bulldog Nation rallies around our own in times of joy and times of stress,” Deborah Dietzler, executive director of the UGA Alumni Association, told the Daily Post Wednesday. “We wanted to do what we could to help.”

During her recovery, Aimee Copeland has used hundreds of units of blood and plasma at the Joseph M. Still Burn Center in Augusta. Her family has asked the public to donate blood wherever it can — giving blood directly to a specific person is difficult, but replenishing the supplies that helped save Copeland’s life is easy.

Drives have already been held at the University of West Georgia and Snellville First Baptist Church, among other locations. Blood collected in the “competition” between Georgia and South Carolina will further help the cause.

“It’s really gratifying to be able to have such a strong network of graduates, so many of whom want to help others,” Dietzler said. “Once a Bulldog, always a Bulldog, and we are here to help.”

Andy Copeland, who was a driving force behind the project, praised both colleges on Facebook.

“God bless USC and UGA!” he wrote. “Gamecocks and Bulldogs lead the charge!”