CARROLL COUNTY, Ga. - Hundreds gathered in downtown Villa Rica to honor Aimee Copeland, who many call an inspiration after battling a rare flesh-eating bacteria.
The "Celebration of Life" festival kicked off with a roar as hundreds of motorcyclists began a 63-mile benefit ride along Temple Street early Saturday for the University of West Georgia student, who lost multiple limbs after contracting the infection during a zipline accident in May.
Despite her loss, several people said Copeland's courage has been an inspiration, which brought many of them to Saturday's event, including food, music and tributes to Copeland.
Earlier in September, Channel 2 Action News was in New York when Copeland walked across the stage on the "Katie Couric Show." Copeland's appearance marked the first time she spoke publicly about the accident following her four-month hospital stay.
Many local residents said they witnessed the moment that still moves them.
"It was amazing. I have chills," said Villa Rica resident Yuvonne Pate.
"She's endured all these things, and her quick recovery is the thing about it is. She's just like energetic and positive about it," added Ragina Bearden, another resident.
All the money raised at Saturday's event will assist with Copeland's medical bills. Organizers said more than 140 people donated their goods, their time and their talents.
The highlight of the event was Copeland's arrival. She arrived to a crowd giving cheers and embraces to who many described as a woman of courage.
"She's courageous. Real proud of her hanging in there," motorcyclist Vince Matthews said.