Peter and Gracie Rosenberger tell a riveting story. Perhaps you saw them not long ago share parts of it on the Today Show.
“We’re just two people who have had the daylights kicked out of us and are still standing,” said 45-year-old Peter Rosenberger in a telephone interview from his home in Nashville, Tennessee. “We face some brutal realities in life.”
Indeed, they do. In 1983, at age 17, Gracie fell asleep while driving and hit an Interstate barrier head-on, which launched her headfirst into a ravine. She spent the next few months in a hospital. Gracie has had more than 70 operations since the accident, including the amputation of her right leg in 1991 and left in 1995. Over the years, she has been the patient of more than 30 different specialists and her medical bills have totaled about $9 million.
“Gracie didn’t have her legs taken from her,” said Peter, who married Gracie in 1986. “She gave them up after recognizing how badly they were damaged. There wasn’t a surgery that could fix the pain. There are just some things this side of heaven that won’t be fixed.”
By a long shot, the amputations didn’t remove all her pain. After her accident, one surgeon counted in her about 200 below-the-waist fractures. It was an Evel Knievel-type wreck, said Peter, referring to the accident prone, famous daredevil motorcyclist.
Even though a below-knee, double amputee in a constant state of pain, Gracie has become an “advanced” snow skier. However, an even greater passion of hers has been her singing. Said Peter, “She has a powerful voice and was a vocal performance major at Belmont University.”
Gracie was the first woman with a disability to vocally perform at a U.S. political convention, when, in 2004, First Lady Laura Bush invited her to sing the National Anthem at the Republican National Convention the night Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger spoke. She performed for President George W. Bush at another event. She also has appeared in the magazines People and Today’s Christian Woman, been on the Today Show twice, and performed alongside the U.S. Secretary of Defense for 10,000 soldiers at Fort Campbell, Kentucky.
Though many, her musical accomplishments pale when compared to the impact she and Peter have been having around the globe serving amputees through their faith-based ministry Standing With Hope.