FORT WALTON BEACH — When Peter Rosenberger was in college, he met the woman he would one day marry. However, he never anticipated the struggles they would deal with together.

A couple years before Peter met Gracie, she was in a life-changing car accident. The Fort Walton Beach High School graduate was attending Belmont University in Nashville, Tennessee, as a freshman in 1984.

During her first year, Gracie ran herself thin between school work and her passion for music. She was driving to meet a friend in Little Rock when she fell asleep at the wheel in the middle of the day. She hit a concrete embankment at 70 mph and severely injured her legs.

“They didn’t think she would live, much less ever walk again, much less ever have children, much less ever see her grandchildren,” Peter said. “But she has one, and we have another one coming at the end of the month.”

Gracie took some time off from school to heal. When she returned she met Peter. Soon after, they were engaged and Peter was by her side through her first surgery.

Thirty-two years and 80 major surgeries later, the couple remain together. Peter has been Gracie’s caretaker all this time, which hasn’t been an easy journey. Through lots of tears and sleepless nights, Peter came out stronger.

Peter has been with Gracie through the amputation of both her legs below the knee and countless doctors’ visits with more than 80 physicians at 12 hospitals. He has dealt with multiple medical insurance companies and bills totaling to more than $10 million.

But all of these circumstances resulted in Peter developing an understanding of health care issues faced by people with disabilities and what their caretakers go through. Those experiences inspired him to use his knowledge to help others.

“It was a bad wreck, but it’s a good life,” Peter said. “Hard lives are often inescapable, but meaningful lives are a choice.”

In 2013 Peter began hosting his own weekly radio show “Hope for the Caregiver” on I Heart Media’s News Channel 1510 WLAC in Nashville. The next year he wrote a book by the same name. In 2017 his radio show became syndicated and now airs on more than 250 stations.

“I’m not teaching people how to care give; that’s not what I do,” Peter said. “I can’t tell you how to take care of your loved one anymore than you can tell me how to take care of mine. What I can do is talk about what’s going on with the caregiver.”

On his show, Peter provides tips and wisdom for caregivers so they can navigate through challenging circumstances. He takes the time to ask callers how they are doing, and he doesn’t let them blow through the question.

“Gracie is an amputee, but must I be to take care of her? And yet we caregivers feel guilty for seeing to our own needs,” Peter said. “If we don’t take time for stillness, we’re going to have to make time for illness. ... Healthy caregivers make better caregivers.”

Even while dealing with seemingly constant pain, Peter and Gracie try to look at the bright side of life and make a difference for others. Together they founded the prosthetic limb outreach, Standing with Hope, to help fellow amputees through not only the gift of mobility but religious ministry.

For years, the couple have traveled from their Nashville home to West Africa to provide prosthetic limbs and a positive message to other amputees. When Gracie’s health began declining in 2010, the trips stopped. But in a week, the Rosenbergers will go to Africa once again to continue their mission.

“I hate what happened to my wife, but I love what we get to do,” Peter said. “There are scars that both of us carry, but this is not a death sentence. There is extreme beauty in dire circumstances.”