Staff Photo: Jason Braverman
Kyle Maynard, left, the keynote speaker of the Gwinnett Medical Center Foundation Cornerstone Society gala, introduces Aimee Copeland to the stage on Saturday night at the Gwinnett Center. The two met for the first time at the event.
DULUTH — The Gwinnett Center was star-studded with the who’s who at the annual Gwinnett Medical Center Foundation Cornerstone Society Gala on Saturday night.
Hundreds of the hospital’s employees and devoted supporters gathered for food, music and awards, and most importantly, to hear Kyle Maynard, who was born with congenital amputation, speak to the crowd.
During dinner, special recognition was given to three people who stood out in the past year. Dr. Miles H. Mason III took home the Physicians Champion Award, Dorothy Rainey won the Distinguished Service Award and Michelle Gray received the Desai Compassionate Care Award.
After a short break for mingling, Maynard took the stage to challenge people to change their lives for a reason.
“The underlying message is to not make excuses for stuff, but the deeper message is why?,” he said. “Why would we want to take on a better version of ourselves? And to draw from that source of motivation, to find that why, to find that inner sense of your deepest drive, it changes us.”
But the buzz in the room was for Maynard and Aimee Copeland, who had met for the first time earlier in the evening. Copeland lost her hands, left leg and right foot after surviving a rare flesh-eating disease. They discussed prosthetics, hiking, psychology and the benefits of yoga.
The two were equally excited to meet each other, since they have several common interests and daily obstacles.
“After this happened to me, everyone told me about Kyle,” Copeland said. “I heard that he didn’t use prosthetics, so I was totally amazed. Then I heard about Kilimanjaro and that’s a huge passion of mine is being outdoors and hiking. So for me, it was like, ‘Wow, there’s a future for me.’”
Maynard has followed Copeland’s story from start to present and feels inspired by her point of view and outlook on life.
“She is unbelievable — a rockstar,” Maynard said about Copeland. “I think when I saw her story for the first time, I just really wanted to meet her. I’m so happy to see her passions and where she’s headed. There’s a lot of really cool common ground to try different things and different interests.”