After being diagnosed with a rare flesh-eating bacterial infection from a 2012 zip-lining accident, Georgia native Aimee Copeland found herself fighting for her life. As the doctors did what they could to save her, they had to amputate both of her hands, one foot, and much of one leg. The road to recovery was a long one, especially with Aimee being an adventurist with a strong passion for the outdoors.
New challenges made Aimee determined to find a way to still enjoy the great outdoors, which led her to start the Aimee Copeland Foundation that works to provide greater access to those with physical challenges.
Recently, the foundation partnered with the Georgia Department of Natural Resources to provide free, high mobility all-terrain track wheelchairs at 11 state parks, historic sites and a wildlife center. The initiative encourages those with disabilities to reconnect with nature and history, explore nature trails, go fishing and attend adaptive hunts.
A public unveiling ceremony is set for 10 a.m. on November 4 at Panola Mountain State Park just southeast of Atlanta. Afterward, all-terrain track chairs will be available at:
- Charlie Elliott Wildlife Center, Mansfield
- Cloudland Canyon State Park, Trenton
- Don Carter State Park, Lake Lanier
- Red Top Mountain State Park, Lake Allatoona
- Etowah Indian Mounds Historic Site, Cartersville
- Fort Yargo State Park, Winder
- Hard Labor Creek State Park, Rutledge
- Panola Mountain State Park, Stockbridge
- Picketts Mill Battlefield Historic Site, Dallas
- Smithgall Woods State Park, Helen
- Sweetwater Creek State Park, Lithia Springs
All-terrain track chairs are designed with safety in mind, giving Georgians who otherwise might not be able to navigate more difficult types of terrain the ability to hit the trails and navigate through mud, water, sand and snow. Qualifying park visitors can experience a sense of freedom that can be difficult to have in an everyday wheelchair. Track chairs can be used for hiking, hunting, fishing and other outdoor education and recreational activities.
“Our mission is to provide outdoor opportunities for every Georgia citizen and visitor,” said Georgia State Parks & Historic Sites Director Jeff Cown. “I am proud to partner with the Aimee Copeland Foundation to offer access to visitors with mobility or physical disabilities.”
The chairs are provided free to visitors who qualify, including those with Cerebral Palsy, Muscular Dystrophy, spinal cord injuries and lower limb amputations. Advance reservations are required and users must have a buddy with them at all times.