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SAVED BY LOVE: Lander alumna and her husband help transform lives

January 05, 2016

A healthy and happy 11-month-old girl explores the open-air living room in Gregg and Peggy Nibert’s Clinton, S.C. home. It’s a perfect scene, complete with giggling, hugs and talks of a quickly approaching nap-time. It’s a setting that can easily be referred to as dream-like. What’s shocking is that just a few months earlier, this youngster was living a nightmare.

When she and the Niberts were brought together, she was not yet 30 days old, recovering from several broken bones, including her back. While other children her age were wearing onesies, she was confined to a body brace.

Her transformation has been nothing short of a miracle.

Peggy and Gregg Nibert

Peggy and Gregg Nibert

She’s not the first child whose life has been transformed by the Niberts, though. Since 2006, the couple have fostered 38 children. The S.C. Department of Social Services has the Niberts on speed dial when the agency learns of an abused child who needs shelter.

The question of exactly how the Niberts do what they do is easily answered within five minutes of talking with them: their faith and love. “Our decision to become foster parents was definitely driven by Peggy, and it’s been an absolute blessing,” said Gregg, who is entering his 27th year as men’s head basketball coach at Presbyterian College.

Peggy, a 1984 business administration graduate from Lander, picks up the story. “The idea of foster parenting began as our sons (Shaun and Van) were getting older. I was out of the workforce and felt a calling to do something else.”

She took courses for interior design and had thoughts of pursuing nursing, all the while knowing that she had a strong pull to do something else.  

“For five years, the Lord was making it obvious that He wanted us to become foster parents, but I kept putting it off. But when God speaks to you, it’s clear,” she said. “Everything I heard and saw, every billboard, every radio commercial, every conversation I had, led me to the conviction that this is what God wanted for us.”

By Divine Design
A medical exam is among the requirements to become a foster parent in South Carolina. It’s a requirement that quite literally saved Gregg’s life. “That test is how we discovered I had prostate cancer,” said Gregg. 

Rather than putting their foster parent plans on hold, the Niberts continued to charge full-steam-ahead. While Gregg was on a surgeon’s waiting list, he and Peggy were united with their first foster child; Marcus, a five-month-old baby. “He had virtually no neck muscles after being shaken so badly and he had blunt-force trauma to the head. We later found out that his older brother died from parental abuse,” said Peggy.

Merely weeks later, the Niberts and Marcus travelled to Vanderbilt for Gregg’s cancer treatment.

Today, Gregg is the picture of health, and Marcus is a happy 8-year-old who has since been adopted by a U.S. military family, and will soon be spending his adolescent years overseas.

 You do not have to have a Ph.D. to make a difference
The Niberts have much to occupy their minds and lives. As coach of the Blue Hose, there’s traveling for road games, scouting and game film review, recruiting and the games themselves. As parents of two sons who are now young adults, they keep abreast of emerging careers and all that comes with that.

But, as Gregg says, love is the anchor that keeps their lives grounded. “You do not have to have a Ph.D. to make a difference. If you have love in your heart for people or children, then you’re going to make an unbelievable difference in someone’s life. And just think of how rewarding it is to help someone have a life…a real life.”