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Aimee Copeland walks onto stage in first TV appearance

Katie Couric, right, applauds as Aimee Copeland, who survived a rare fleshing-eating disease, arrives for an interview on the new daytime talk show "Katie," Sept. 11, 2012, in New York. Copeland walked to the stage using a new walker.

Katie Couric, right, applauds as Aimee Copeland, who survived a rare fleshing-eating disease, arrives for an interview on the new daytime talk show "Katie," Sept. 11, 2012, in New York. Copeland walked to the stage using a new walker.

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This image released by Disney-ABC Domestic Television shows host Katie Couric, left, with Aimee Copeland, 24, of Snellville, who survived a rare fleshing-eating disease, during an exclusive interview on the new daytime talk show "Katie," Tuesday. (AP Photo/Disney-ABC Domestic Television, Ida Mae Astute)

Aimee Copeland not only appeared on national television Tuesday -- she walked on stage.

In her first public interview since contracting the flesh-eating bacteria that has claimed most of her limbs, the Snellville native was a guest on Katie Couric's new daytime talk show "Katie." Copeland, 24, walked onto the stage with the help of one prosthetic foot, a walker and a standing ovation.

"That was a beautiful sight to see, Aimee Copeland," Couric, a long-time national news anchor, said.

Copeland responded with a smile: "It felt pretty good too."

Copeland, a graduate student at the University of West Georgia, contracted necrotizing fasciitis on May 1 after falling from a homemade zipline near Carrollton. After fighting off death, enduring amputations and months of rehab, the upbeat South Gwinnett High School grad was finally released to her family's Snellville home two weeks ago.

Described by friends and family throughout the ordeal as an outgoing, positive free spirit, that personality showed through Tuesday.

"Sometimes I'm like, 'Whoa, how did this happen to me,' and it's bad," Copeland told Couric on her new ABC show, which debuted this week. "And sometimes I'm like, 'OK, this is going to be OK, I'm learning how to do things.' It's just like all of everyone else's lives. We all have our own struggles that we have to get through every moment."

Her family joining her on stage, Copeland spoke about the struggles of rehab, and the difficulty of doing things as seemingly simple as brushing her teeth. She said she has hooks for her hands and will eventually get a prosthetic for her left leg (she already has one for her right), but that she wants to do "whatever I can do on my own."

Midway through the interview, Couric posed a dramatic question: "Was there any point where you said 'I can't do this, I'd rather die?'"

Copeland's answer was direct -- "no" -- then, after a pause, more contemplative.

"That was never really an option for me," she said. "I love life. It's a beautiful thing. It's something I don't take for granted anymore, I never take for granted how beautiful it is seeing a sunrise or the ocean, animals. It's so exhilarating, and even moreso now."

"It's like the senses are so deepened," she continued. "Everything smells better, everything is more vibrant, more colorful and even more beautiful than before."

Copeland walking onto the stage wasn't the only surprise during Tuesday's show. Steve Rayman Chevrolet of Atlanta announced that it would be donating a van, which will be retrofitted with technology to allow Copeland to drive herself around town.

"I just wanted her to be a 24-year-old girl," Rayman said.

Tuesday's television interview is the first of two public appearances for Copeland this week. The city of Snellville will host "Aimee's Welcome Home" from 5 to 8 p.m. Friday.

City officials said a band will perform from 5 to 6 p.m. on the town green while Copeland speaks with the media. Copeland will make an appearance on the green herself after that, with plans to speak to the crowd before meeting visitors individually until 8 p.m., or as long as her health permits.

Comments

suedehead 1 year, 7 months ago

Taking nothing away from this inspiring young woman, but I again ask "what about the others that contracted this disease?" I near nothing about them and how they're getting by. Steve Rayman's donation sure was timely. Nothing like national tv exposure.

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teelee 1 year, 7 months ago

Who cares if the timing helped a Chevy dealer that is donating a van. When the others make news they will report it. What is your point? Is it only because she is white? Female? Pretty? Be happy for her recovery because this could happen to anybody, but not everybody could recover like Aimee has.

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Katrina 1 year, 7 months ago

I agree, Teelee. A retrofitted van is a wonderful gift, and if Steve Rayman's dealership gets publicity from it, that's fine with me. The more people who help this young woman with the expenses associated with her physical challenges, the better!

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charity 1 year, 7 months ago

Are you kidding me????? My momma always told me if you have nothing nice to say than keep your mouth shut…maybe you need to follow that rule as well!!! What an insensitive comment to make about an amazing woman that beat the odds. She is showing the people of Gwinnett and the world that just because you have a disability does not mean life is over. Live is precious….LIVE IT!!!

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testep 1 year, 7 months ago

The others have no connection to Gwinnett County.

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John_Smith 1 year, 7 months ago

Why is it that people with heartless comments such as this start out saying something like "Taking nothing away from this inspiring young woman" or "I wish Amy nothing but the best but....." Why cant you be happy with the fact that so many have come together to help her? Yes there are others with huge medical bill that need help as well. Would it make you happy if no one came to her aid and she had massive bills to pay? Some of the mean comments that have been left for Amy on so many websites blow my mind!

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teelee 1 year, 7 months ago

Way to go Aimee you have made us all proud of you in Snellville!!!

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Katrina 1 year, 7 months ago

God bless you, Aimee! You are a hero and an inspiration!!!

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