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Copeland attributes daughter's survival to faith, hope, love and courage

Special Photo Andy Copeland, whose daughter Aimee Copeland garnered international attention in May when she contracted a rare flesh-eating bacteria, spoke to area Rotary Club members Wednesday morning about the journey of faith, hope and love he and his family have traveled since Aimee's diagnosis. Shown here are, left to right, Albert Meyers III, president of the Conyers Rotary Club; Wayne Pugh, president of the Covington Rotary Club; Donna Copeland, Andy Copeland, and Ashley Roesler, president of the Rockdale Rotary Club. .

Special Photo Andy Copeland, whose daughter Aimee Copeland garnered international attention in May when she contracted a rare flesh-eating bacteria, spoke to area Rotary Club members Wednesday morning about the journey of faith, hope and love he and his family have traveled since Aimee's diagnosis. Shown here are, left to right, Albert Meyers III, president of the Conyers Rotary Club; Wayne Pugh, president of the Covington Rotary Club; Donna Copeland, Andy Copeland, and Ashley Roesler, president of the Rockdale Rotary Club. .

CONYERS -- Andy Copeland, whose daughter Aimee nearly lost her life in May to a rare flesh-eating bacteria, spoke to area Rotarians on Wednesday about his daughter's deliverance from death and the strong beliefs that helped his family through the ordeal.

Drawing from the Apostle Paul's first letter to the Corinthians, Copeland spoke of the power of prayer and of faith, hope and love and the unending cycle they create together.

"Prayer requires the fuel of hope; hope requires the fuel of faith; and faith requires the fuel of love," Copeland said.

The product of faith, hope and love combined is courage, said Copeland. These four things, he said, were inextricably linked and integral to Aimee's and his family's ability to face her illness and recovery.

Aimee Copeland contracted the bacteria that nearly claimed her life in a zip line accident in May. The 24-year-old University of West Georgia graduate student wound up at Doctor's Hospital in Augusta where doctors had to amputate her left leg, right foot and both of her hands in order to save her life. Her father, a Rotarian in Gwinnett County, spoke to a combined meeting of Rotarians from the Rockdale, Conyers and Covington clubs at Rockdale Medical Center on Wednesday morning.

Copeland said his daughter's survival was nothing short of a miracle wrought by faith and prayer.

"I believe that miracles happen when you have faith in God that he will produce miracles for you," said Copeland. "A byproduct of faith is prayer, and I can tell you that prayer produces miracles."

Copeland said at the time of Aimee's diagnosis, he had an awakening that made him determined to keep his faith strong. After his daughter was transported to Augusta, Copeland said family members despaired that she would not survive. Copeland said he refused to give up hope.

"I reached over and grabbed her arm and bent down and whispered in her ear, and I said, 'Aimee, we're not quitting on you and you don't quit either.'"

After his daughter survived the first night at Doctor's Hospital against all odds, he said he knew they'd been given a miracle.

"I said we're going to have hope that we are going to pull through. I knew it was the faith that God had blessed me with that was pulling us through at that moment," he said.

Faith, Copeland said, is meaningless unless it is accompanied by love. He said he and his family were overwhelmed by the outpouring of love and support for Aimee from around the country and the world.

"The demonstration of the power of love is the one thing that binds our country together," he said, pointing to Americans' willingness to give to charities and those in need.

Paraphrasing from Paul's letter to the Corinthians, Copeland said, "Faith, hope and love are all important, but the greatest of these is love. And there's no doubt about it."

The courage realized through faith, hope and love was the quality that enabled his family to endure, Copeland said, making it possible for them to focus on their gains rather than their losses.

Faith, hope, love and courage are also the things for which Copeland said he is thankful. He encouraged his audience to celebrate Thanksgiving by "giving God the glory by expressing your own version of faith, hope and love."