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A Zip-Lining Accident Changed Her Life

A Zip-Lining Accident Changed Her Life

By The Sunday Paper Team
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Meet the Woman Bringing Wheelchairs to National Parks

Rock climbing, backpacking, and trail running played significant roles in Aimee Copeland Mercier’s life until a zip-lining accident put everything on pause in 2012. After being hospitalized, the doctor had to amputate Aimee’s hands, right foot, and left leg to save her from necrotizing fasciitis, a flesh-eating infection. Despite the challenge, her passion for outdoor activities never went away. Today, Aimee is helping herself and others relearn how to connect with nature through the Aimee Copeland Foundation.

Aimee Copeland Foundation partnered with the Georgia Department of Natural Resources to launch the All Terrain Georgia initiative, which provides all-terrain wheelchairs to individuals with physical impairments at selected national parks. These wheelchairs can power through different environments, making hiking, hunting, fishing, and other outdoor activities possible.

Besides Georgia, South Dakota, Colorado, and Michigan have similar programs. Currently, there's no unified system that regulates these programs. Each state has its own reservation system and requirements. Visitors in Georgia would provide their proof of disability and a photo ID. After that, they need to complete a training session online. Once certified, the program will notify available national parks regarding rental requests.

Before you depart for the experience, Aimee has an important reminder—plan ahead. The online training session would take participants about one hour to complete. Then, it will take 72 hours before the program contacts the national parks. Additionally, it will take 48 hours before the national park processes the request.

Aimee’s mission to transform communities for all bodies and abilities and bring wheelchairs to all national parks in the country is extraordinary. Aimee Copeland Foundation is also involved in mindfulness retreats. To learn more about this foundation and support, click here. We also encourage you to read about similar initiates outside of Georgia in this Washington Post article.

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