This year's was in honor of , the young Snellville woman who contracted a flesh-eating bacteria after a zip-line accident.
When the main event organizers heard about Copeland's situation, they quickly took steps to make the event in honor of her.
“It's a STAT (Snellville Tourism and Trade) event,” said Kelly McAloon, vice president of STAT, “and shortly after we heard about what happened with Aimee, we said, hey, this family needs our help. She's a Snellville resident, and we all know her family.”
McAloon knows Aimee's mother Donna from Snellville Middle School.
The idea originally came from mother and daughter duo Vickie and Brianna Gallup, friends and co-workers of Aimee's. When STAT agreed that it was a great idea, Vickie started “calling, emailing, Googling,” and doing everything she could to increase awareness of the event and line up some great entertainment.
A Special Appearance
Aimee's father, Andy Copeland, was Friday evening's guest of honor. Aimee was in surgery at the time.
“It's about a 4-hour procedure,” Copeland said to Snellville Patch.
Over the course of various surgeries, doctors have had to remove muscle that covered her iliac artery. Now, that artery is dangerously close to the surface.
“They have to take muscle out of her abdomen and put it there,” he explained. “She was really scared of this surgery more than anything, but sucked it up very courageously.”
Ever since Aimee has been able to speak – a day her father calls Aimee's Day – it's been easier for Copeland to travel between home and Augusta, where Aimee is hospitalized.
“Being able to talk on the phone makes it easier as we get more distance between us,” he said.
Copeland said that, right now, the biggest concern is Aimee's right side. It has been an emotional rollercoaster since day one, but the Copelands are taking it in stride.
“We process a little bit every day,” he said. “We're handling it by bits.”
Copeland shared that his first reaction after hearing of Aimee's accident was one of disbelief.
“But I'll be honest with you,” he said, “I prayed to God, and at that moment He gave me peace. I believed that this would be the outcome – that she would live. To me, that's all that matters.
God has just been our strength, our rock and our fortress.”
Copeland said that the healing process is long and intensive. The prosthetics are difficult to adjust to and the amputated areas often require multiple surgeries. The Copelands are currently scouting out the top rehab facilities in the nation for the day she finally gets out of the hospital.
Copeland revealed a new T-shirt design for Aimee's supporters. The back of the shirt has a remarkable drawing of a strong, blonde woman wrapped in nature. On closer inspection, you can see that her left leg is made of wood, as well as her right foot and both hands.
“Aimee is part of nature and nature is part of Aimee,” he said.
The drawing was created by Aimee's childhood sweetheart, Tradd Moore. They were next door neighbors who grew up together.
In the drawing, Aimee is holding a moon. The night she was flown to Augusta after her accident, the moon was at its closest point to the earth.
Musicians and Local Celebrities Unite to Honor Aimee
Jordan Rager, Loganville resident and winner of NBC's The Voice, was already scheduled to perform at the Sizzling Summer Weekend before it became a benefit for Aimee.
Rager performed an hour-long set and played his personal favorite, Natural Born Charm, for the audience.
“It's not my best song,” he said to Snellville Patch, “but it has a lot of meaning to me. One I put a lot of heart into; true and personal things.”
Growing up in Loganville influenced his songwriting. Growing up here, he said, “makes it easy to write about life.” The new celebrity status in his hometown, however, is something he says he will never get used to.
When Rager found out the Sizzling Weekend was going to be a benefit for Aimee, he was very excited about it.
“I was glad to hear the City of Snellville was going to help her out like that,” Rager said. “I can't imagine what she's going through. The fact that I can be here and help in the little way that I can makes me even more glad they asked me out here.”
Elements of Style, a local band made up of South Gwinnett graduates, played Friday night as well.
“Aimee is a very special person,” said Gram Wire, guitar player for Elements of Style.
Wire graduated in 2006 with Aimee.
“As most people know,” he said, “she is so highly intelligent, and going for her master's in psychology. She's a fighter. She survived a disease that kills one in four people. It isn't a surprise that she's handled it this way; she's a strong-willed person.”
Wire was excited to perform during the Sizzling Weekend, and hopes to inspire people to donate.
Everyone who knows Aimee echoed the sentiments of her bravery, courage and bubbly, positive personality.
If you would like to make a donation to Aimee's medical fund, contact STAT or stop by the Sizzling Summer Weekend today. The event will start this morning at the Farmers Market and carry on with more live music and plenty of vendors throughout the day.
Do you have pictures of the Sizzling Summer Weekend? Upload them to our gallery and we will add them to the story!