The event is quickly coming together and continues to grow day by day leading up to the Sept. 22 benefit at The Mill amphitheater in downtown Villa Rica.
All money raised during Saturday’s event at The Mill amphitheater will be donated to Copeland for medical expenses and the costs of recovery from a life-threatening bacterial infection. The infection, which she contracted when she cut her left leg during a fall on May 1 from a homemade zipline into the Little Tallapoosa River, destroys muscle and skin tissue. The University of West Georgia graduate had both hands, her left leg and her right foot amputated due to the effects of the rare flesh-eating disease.
Ronnie Capes of New Georgia began organizing the benefit for Copeland after hearing her story. He, too, knows a thing about adversity, having been diagnosed with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease and given only three to eight years to live. With the time he’s got left, he wants to help people and that’s where he got the idea to help Copeland.
“I hope everybody comes out and wants to give,” Capes said. “If it’s good weather, look out because it’s going to be big,” Capes said.
Capes doesn’t know Copeland or her family, but he has eaten lunch at the Sunnyside Cafe where Copeland worked and she was his waitress. When he heard about her plight, he was touched to the point of taking action.
“I was in the bed one night (about two months ago) and got to thinking I’ve only got three to eight years to live, that’s what they gave me, so I decided I needed to do something good and I decided to do this for Aimee,” he said. “She had been on the news that night and it touched me bad, really got down in my heart seeing her like that, and I wanted to do something to help. From that day to this, I’ve been wide open on it.”
Villa Rica Main Street Manager Kimberly Stovall was already planning a concert at The Mill for Sept. 22 when Capes called her to inquire about renting the facility for the Copeland event. She was so moved she decided to combine his event with her concert.
“He’s got a really big heart,” Stovall said of Capes. “It just takes somebody special to reach out like that. People can have compassion all day long, but to take it and do something with it is special.”
The ride will begin at The Mill and finish in the same place after the riders head south on Highway 61, then Highway 16 to Whitesburg, Highway 5 to McIntosh State Park and then Highway 27 before hitting Highway 61 headed back to Villa Rica, all escorted by Carroll County Sheriff’s Office personnel.
Registration runs from 8-10 a.m. with the ride beginning at 10 a.m., though Capes said he’s expecting so many bikes that he will be there around 6:30 a.m. to begin registering riders. Registration and early donations can also be done online at www.villarica-mainstreet.com. Registration is $20 per bike and $10 per passenger.
“It’s coming together pretty good,” Capes said. “Everybody I’ve talked to has said they’re coming. From what I’ve heard we’re going to have about 2,000 bikes.”
The first 150 riders who arrive that morning will receive a free T-shirt. There will be shuttle buses provided by churches to help with parking and moving people around in designated lots throughout Villa Rica.
Copeland is scheduled to be at The Mill to meet with people sometime between 4 p.m. and 8 p.m.
“She just doesn’t have the stamina to last for four hours, but she’ll be here sometime between the hours of 4 and 8,” Stovall said.
The actual event at The Mill begins at 11 a.m. with music throughout the day and into the evening. A kids corner run by Grand Illusion Entertainment will also be on hand, as well as horse shoe pits, cornhole, a pool tournament run by Stix, three BMX shows put on by High Roller BMX, a host of vendors and raffles prizes given out all day.
“We are encouraging people to spend all day here and visit the downtown restaurants and shops on that day,” she said.
Bands performing include Ringers Crossroad, Paris Luna and Barry Waldrep, Americana Express and The Return, a Georgia-based Beatles tribute band that had the honor of being invited to play in the iconic band’s hometown of Liverpool, England.
Vendors, sponsors, volunteers and donated raffles prizes are still being sought. Those interested in donating prizes can contact Capes at 404-569-2169. Those interested in volunteering, being a vendor or helping sponsor the event can contact Stovall at email@example.com.
“Everybody has been very generous about volunteering to help,” Capes said.