By Mr. Bryan Gatchell (Benning)March 7, 2019
FORT BENNING, Ga. - Aimee Copeland, a motivational speaker, therapist and advocate for people with disabilities, encouraged Soldiers and civilians to focus on what they can control and let go what is out of their control March 6 at Fort Benning.
Copeland delivered a motivational speech at McGinnis-Wickam Hall at the Maneuver Center of Excellence headquarters building, drawing from her own life experience to inspire the audience.
In 2012, Copeland injured her left leg during a zip-lining accident and contracted aeromonas hydrophila, a bacteria which resulted in a soft tissue infection. Because of the infection and subsequent medical complications, medical personnel amputated her left leg, right foot and hands.
Copeland spoke about the accident and medical treatment, her recovery and adaptation to everyday tasks, and more.
"We group things into two basic categories: good and bad," said Copeland during the presentation. "We want all the good and we want to keep the bad away. But it's actually in those things that we label quote-unquote bad that all learning is. All the wisdom lives there. That's where we develop our character. That's where we find out who we are. Without these obstacles, what use would we have for growing?"
Copeland's recovery took place at the Shepherd Center for spinal cord and brain injury rehabilitation in Atlanta. She later took a job as a therapist at the center.
Citing a time when her van was stolen and she needed to find a different way to work, she discovered she could make the five-mile commute in her wheelchair. Taking the streets to her job at the Shepherd Center, she was able to arrive at a morning meeting 15 minutes early.
"Not every situation works out this perfectly," she said. "But it really shows what happens when we let go of what we can't control and we focus on where our power lies. We focus on taking action."
In addition to her job as a therapist and her speaking engagements, Copeland also formed a nonprofit organization to provide therapeutic services to people with disabilities. She is also a Paralympic swimmer.