Tennessee Tribune Staff Report
When Gracie Rosenberger was 17 years old, she was in a terrible car accident that shattered a large percentage of the bones in her body. Multiple amputations, 80 surgeries, and 35 years later, she has spent a lifetime working to recover from that tragic accident. In lieu of spending her time feeling sorry for herself, she prefers to spend time helping others who are experiencing challenges similar to her own.
For the last eight years, Gracie’s health issues have forced her to stay close to home to fight her battle. During that time, surgeries, pain medications and infections were a constant challenge. But, she relates, “Step by step, my health has improved. While my pain remains relentless and I can no longer stand up straight, I am coping better. The infections and inactivity took a bit of steam out of me, while also leading to significant weight gain. With the help of quality prosthetics and a clearer mind, I started walking. In three years, I’ve dropped a lot of weight and am working to get back in shape. While not where I want to be and still in a great deal of pain, I have a different outlook and perspective.”
Though Gracie is a strong woman, Gracie’s husband Peter is always there to offer his support. He has been her caregiver since their marriage 32 years ago – and he is the co-founder of their non-profit simply called Standing With Hope.
Their shared mission is to help others “stand with hope.” How do they accomplish this? Standing With Hope has two program areas: a family caregiver outreach and a prosthetic limb ministry to help others an ocean away. Through Standing with Hope’s prosthetic limb program, the Rosenbergers regularly work with Ghana Health Service in the Republic of Ghana. Recruiting volunteer US prosthetists and gathering and purchasing supplies, Standing With Hope trains and equips local workers to help build quality prosthetic limbs for their own people. This is a huge undertaking but the results are well worth all the work. “When you see the looks on their faces, you know this is the right thing,” says Peter.
This ministry is strenuous for Gracie, and she’s not been able to visit Ghana in eight years due to surgeries and setbacks. But once again, she is back on her own two prosthetic feet, and she is happy to return to Ghana with her team in August 2018.
The overseas prosthetic limb outreach has local ties as well. Through a unique partnership, inmates at a local correctional facility administered by Green Hills based Core Civic, volunteer to disassemble used prosthetic limbs collected around the country.
“While the socket of a prosthetic limb is custom made for the patient, the adapters, connecters, feet, pylons, knee units, and even screws can be recyclable.” Peter shares.
For seven years, inmates have helped recycle these valuable components which are then shipped free of charge to Ghana Health Service.
Core Civic’s managing director of communications Steve Owen stated, “Faith-based programs like Standing With Hope serve as a wonderful outlet for inmates at our facilities. Standing With Hope is unique in that it is the only program of its kind to incorporate inmates with recycling prosthetic limbs.” He further added, “Our commitment is to provide a variety of positive programs that help reduce recidivism. We’re proud of Standing With Hope’s prosthetic limb recycling ministry and the way it instills a sense of community service, pride and compassion in all the inmates who participate.”
The other program of Standing With Hope works to strengthen the family caregiver. Gracie inspires many with her incredible strength, talented singing voice and phenomenal will to overcome the challenges of each day. Alongside Gracie, Peter works to offer hope for the caregiver via his nationally syndicated radio show and his numerous books. Gracie and Peter’s determination to survive and thrive with the challenges facing them have been an inspiration to many. Many celebrities have come alongside the Rosenbergers, doing all they can to help further their mission to help those in need. Comedian Jeff Foxworthy partnered with Peter in a video helping to support family caregivers entitled…you guessed it… “You Might Be A Caregiver If…”
The Rosenberger’s mission has also inspired other celebrities and well-known individuals. Legendary Contemporary Christian artist Amy Grant and Joe Bonsall of the Oakridge Boys have both endorsed Peter’s book “Hope for the Caregiver.” Fellow decades-long caregiver Ken Tada wrote the foreword that draws upon his 30 years of caring for his wife and well-known speaker and author Joni Eareckson Tada through her journey of quadriplegia.
Despite their own ongoing challenges, the Rosenbergers remain enthusiastic about their dual mission of “ministering to the wounded and those who care for them.” Their deep Christian faith fuels their passion. “We received support and help from many along our own painful journey,” reflects Peter. “We’d be poor stewards of that grace if we didn’t extend it in a meaningful way to others.”
“Gracie understands the value of quality prosthetic limbs, and I understand the need for caregivers to be healthy—in every area of their life,” Peter added. “We both equally understand the importance of the message of God’s love and provisions for us in our difficulties. As the hymn states, ‘Strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow.’”
Peter and Gracie Rosenberger live in Nashville, Tennessee, where they have raised two amazing sons and a dog named Mac. Gracie Rosenberger is co-founder of the non-profit “Standing With Hope” and director of the Ghanaian Limb Program. Peter Rosenberger is a 30-year caregiver, host of his syndicated radio talk show “Hope for the Caregiver” and author of the books “Hope for the Caregiver” and “7 Caregiver Landmines.” For more photos and information on Standing With Hope and their mission, visit http://www.standingwithhope.com
This article originally appeared in The Tennessee Tribune.