Georgia state parks now supply all-terrain wheelchairs to make the outside extra accessible to all – 95.5 WSB

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“Aimee has actually been working on this for a number of years.”

Aimee… is Aimee Copeland. Back then a very active twenty-something who was out so often rock climbing, backpacking and trail running. But the life of the then psychology student at the University of Georgia changed drastically in 2012 at the age of 24. A zip line accident led to a diagnosis of necrotizing fasciitis – a flesh-eating bacterial infection. From there amputations of both her hands, her right foot and her left leg.

Since her life-changing “new situation,” as she calls it, she’s dedicated herself not only to getting back to being as active as possible, but also helping others like her.

She achieved this through the work of the Aimee Copeland Foundation. Now the group’s latest effort is a partnership with Georgia State Parks and Historic Sites. All-terrain, high-mobility wheelchairs are offered free of charge at 10 of Georgia’s parks, historic sites and one wildlife center.

“Her foundation’s initiative is to ensure that people with physical disabilities can continue to enjoy outdoor recreation,” Kim Hatcher, public affairs coordinator for Georgia’s state parks and historic sites, told WSB radio.

“It’s a wonderful thing for us to be able to offer something to people with muscular dystrophy or spinal cord injuries. We are excited to be working with (Copeland) to make more Georgia state parks accessible to all.”

A public unveiling of the wheelchairs was held at Panola Mountain State Park — southeast of Atlanta — on Friday morning.

Early reviews from those who have used the all-terrain wheelchairs? A big thumbs up.

“People who had never used them before got a chance to try them and it was really, really rewarding to see people’s faces when they had to go down really steep slopes and over little branches and spots that they would otherwise couldn’t have managed to ride in a regular wheelchair,” says Hatcher.

Chairs are free to use, but prior reservation is required.