Raymond Johnson woke up Monday, and he decided just to go.
He hadn't registered, and he didn't even know where he was going. But, Aimee Copeland's story of courage and challenge drew him out of his Decatur home, and before long, there he was at First Baptist Church in Snellville -- giving blood.
When he was younger he had donated blood on many occasions, but Copeland made him re-evaluate his life with this question: "What have done since then? You're 53 years old, you know."
"So, I stopped everything, and I got up this morning, and this is where I was headed," he said.
Johnson joined more than 400 people who gave in honor of the 24-year-old Snellville woman, who he is fighting a flesh-eating infection at the Joseph M. Still Burn Center in Augusta.
Some of that blood will likely go directly to Copeland, and many units will be given to other patients who also are experiencing a personal health crisis, said Pamela Rascon, the community resources director at the Shepeard Community Blood Center.
The center partners with a number of hospitals across Georgia and South Carolina to bring critically needed blood to numerous patients. Blood drives like the ones held for Copeland are especially important now, when reserves dip into the summer months, Rascon said.
It's been surprising, she said, but heart-warming to see so many people -- from local communities and across the world -- reach out and try to do something to help. Her story -- one largely being told by her father, Andy Copeland -- is resonating with everyone, Rascon said.
"When Andy shares with Aimee what's going on she smiles, her face lights up, and she says, 'Wow,'" Rascon explained. "Aimee's aware of what's going on and what people are doing, and about how, internationally, people are polarized around hope and love, and that's who she is, but that's how her parents are."
People who have never donated blood before are doing so, and others, like Sarah Fink, are remembering that they've given blood before and should probably do so again.
Fink's mother first heard about Aimee Copeland's story from her mother, who learned about it from Facebook. The family started following Andy Copeland's blog about his daughter's story religiously.
"I'm 22, so I'm kind of around her age," said Fink, a Georgia State University psychology student, who grew up in Snellville. "I knew of her before, and it kind of hit home. I mean, she is so young and full of life, and it was just kind of, you know, startling."
So, waiting in line Monday at a church in Snellville is exactly where Fink decided she needed to be. She tried to sign up at 8:30 a.m., and was met with a waiting list. However, the number of people who paused their day to help was certainly encouraging, she added.
"It restores my faith in the human race," Fink said. "I think it speaks volumes for the sense of community. It's pretty amazing."
Gene Davis, president of the South Gwinnett Rotary Club, which organized the blood drive, agreed that the outpouring of support was inspiring. Even before the 10 a.m. start time, the drive was beginning the process of blood donations for eager givers, he added.
And, not only did everyday citizens give blood, but many also gave financial donations to assist the Copeland family. In the end, 233 units of blood were collected, and more than $9,000 was donated, including $5,000 from Carey Paul Honda.
Johnson, the Decatur resident who woke up Monday morning wondering how useful he'd been in his 53 years, hopes the Copeland family remains encouraged by the virtual embrace squeezing them from so many sides.
As a husband and father of three, Johnson said things like this can only be understood as part of God's plan.
"Stand in faith, be strong," he encouraged the Copeland family. "There's a reason for everything."