By John Riemer
Athletic Communciations Intern

Peggy Lyons had a natural draw to her, a certain radiation that knew no bounds. It began with her smile and the love it communicated that drew Mike Good to her during his freshmen year at UNCW. That same attraction is what made Peggy such a successful teacher of young children and an inspiring volunteer for the Eugemot Foundation in Ghana. She is forever remembered at the school and orphanage after Peggy lost her battle with malaria in 2010.

Mike and Peggy met at UNCW on January 25, 1974. The couple always celebrated this date, according to Mike. The two students shared a common label as  “out-of towners” living in Galloway Hall. This bond, along with various dorm functions, led to a fast friendship. 

Mike recalls the majority of students came from in town or nearby locations.  “Peggy and I lived on campus 24/7, for 10 1/2 to 11 months of the year, only going home on breaks and holidays.”

The extended time at UNCW created a home away from home for Mike and Peggy. The two later became resident assistants together. Through work, they developed close bonds with the emerging school’s students, faculty and staff.

Gina Jones was a fellow resident assistant with Peggy. Gina noticed that Peggy was always willing to help set up games and organize other dorm events. It was at UNCW’s baseball games where Gina and Peggy became close friends. Gina was dating Mike Good’s roommate, Rick Jones. Once Peggy and Mike began to date, the four became even closer.

“Peggy had a way about her, she was never in a bad mood,” recalled Gina.  “She had such a dynamic personality and loved working with kids. She made any situation good.”

Mike studied business and was a catcher on the team under Coach Bill Brooks from 1974-1977, appearing in 60 games for the Seahawks. In addition to being a resident assistant, Mike joined the TKE fraternity. Peggy was two years ahead of Mike at UNCW. She studied health and physical education and was elected homecoming queen in 1975.

When they weren’t busy with studies or athletics, Mike and Peggy often escaped to nearby Wrightsville Beach, a favorite spot of Peggy’s. The two moved to the beach after they were married in 1977.  “She loved the sand and surf and many Sunday afternoons were spent there,” said Mike.

Peggy began her teaching career in the Brunswick County school system. Within a couple years, the two began moving frequently for Mike’s engineering job. Mike and Peggy eventually landed in Huntsville, Ala., where Peggy continued her teaching and volunteer efforts. She taught at Providence Classical School and lent her time to the Lincoln Village Ministries where she tutored children.

Mike and Peggy’s involvement internationally began in Huntsville when they met an exchange student from Ghana who was attending the University of Alabama Huntsville. The couple soon learned about the man’s mother, Ms. Eugenia Motogbe, who started the Eugemot Orphanage in Ghana.

“Ms. Eugenia Motogbe visited Huntsville in late 2004, and Peggy and I were behind a church community who wanted to help,” said Mike.

That willingness to help came as no surprise to Rick Jones. “Peggy was very outgoing, extremely committed and very professional.” Rick added that Peggy sought to “be in situations that really made a difference.”

In 2005, Peggy traveled with The Light, a Church of Christ congregation, on a mission trip to the Eugemot Orphanage, a key part of the Eugemont Foundation. The foundation is a registered non-government organization and operates on a 28-acre plot of land.

The Eugemot Foundation is located in the Volta Region of Ghana on the west coast of Africa, just north of the equator.  Similar to the rest of Africa, the Volta Region has a skewed age distribution in its population of 1.6 million, with 40 percent of its inhabitants under 14 years old and many living on just $2 each day. Organizations like the Eugemot Foundation are needed to help care for these kids and help them develop a better life.

Peggy made the mission trip several times and her work included organizing fundraising efforts at local churches, delivering school materials, developing curriculum, and assisting on construction projects. The kids of the Eugemot Orphanage flocked to her ever-present smile and vibrant enthusiasm.

Mike remembers how much joy this international work brought her. “Annual visits and helping the Eugemot Orphanage became one of her passions.  She always thought her mission work was very rewarding.”

The foundation, according to its website, runs various projects and initiatives that are “aimed at providing the needs of orphans, creating a platform for needy children and their parents to develop their fullest potential and raise their living standards.”

Tragically, Peggy became ill after returning from her last mission trip in the summer of 2010. Doctors determined that she had contracted malaria, but the virus was discovered too late, cutting short a life of giving and service.

According to the World Health Organization, there were an estimated 219 million malaria cases in 2010. Of those cases, there were about 660,000 fatalities. Malaria detection is difficult. The first symptoms are fatigue and a low fever and may be easily confused with jet lag from traveling internationally. Peggy and Mike didn’t recognize the signs before it was too late.

Peggy’s death was an incredible loss for the Huntsville community and Eugemot Orphanage. At Peggy’s memorial service, the Eugemot Foundation named their new school in her honor. The Peggy Good School of Hope was dedicated in May of 2011. Peggy’s portrait hangs in the school office and a bust is located in the courtyard, enshrining her magical smile.

Mike hopes to preserve Peggy’s legacy past the physical recognitions by carrying on the care and compassion she showed the children. Mike continues the annual trips to Ghana to preserve and grow what he called “Peggy’s Plan.”

“Peggy's Plan, as we refer to it, stands for Promote Eugemot Growth and Graduate Youth Services and is focused in three areas:  1) relocating the orphanage to the foundation’s property  2) begin farming a portion of the property for vegetables, a staple of the children's diet and 3) enlisting donors who can help defray expenses for continuing education for graduates.”

On Mike’s most recent trip to the orphanage in November of 2013, he and other volunteers cleared 10 acres of school property for farming and made general repairs to various buildings. The next step for The Peggy Good School of Hope and Eugemot Foundation is to develop more classrooms for the 150 students.

“Peggy represented hope in those kids’ eyes,” Mike said, “and she made them believe there was a better way of life just around the corner.”

[Anyone interested in making contributions to Mike Gold’s efforts on behalf of Peggy may visit www.GoFundMe.com/PeggyGoodSchoolOfHope]