Keeping the silent sports community informed and self propelled.
With both horror an awe, I read this morning about 27-year-old Jenn Gibbons who, while circumnavigating Lake Michigan in a rowboat solo, was sexually assaulted aboard her craft on July 22.
Despite the attack my a man who may have located her through the website she used to track her progress around the lake, Gibbons went public and recommitted herself to completing the journey.
Gibbons started the 1,500-mile trip on June 15 to raise money for Recovery on Water, the Chicago-based rowing organization for breast cancer survivors she co-founded. She had hoped to raise $150,000 to buy six new boats and had raised about $80,000, according to the Associated Press.
After the attack, a Chicago bicycle shop sent her a high-end road bike and gear so she could ride to Muskegon, Michigan, where her 19-foot rowboat has been towed. She said she intended to row the remaining 115 miles to Chicago, arriving in mid-August.
To ensure her safety, she will no longer travel alone and will not post all the details of her itinerary on her website, Row4row.org.
Gibbons told the Chicago Sun-Times newspaper she sees a parallel between women fighting breast cancer and women, like her, recovering from sexual assault.
“With both breast cancer and sexual assault you are dealing with issues that can come up about how you feel about your body, and the way other people view you, and it’s a very personal thing,” Gibbons said. “And the only way to deal with that is to talk about this and ask for support.”
On her website, she wrote, "I still believe that there are more good people in the world than bad. I still believe that life is a gift, even when it’s scary and unfair. I still believe that life offers us the privilege, the opportunity, and the responsibility, to give something back, even when people try to take things away from us."
To donate to Gibbons' cause, to which she amazingly rededicated herself, go to her website here.
By going public about the assault, Gibbons hopes her attacker can be apprehended. Her team made this much know about the unidentified man who she did not know but who called her by name:
"The attack occurred (in the early hours of Sunday, July 22) in an area south of Gulliver along Lake Michigan in Mueller Township, Schoolcraft County, Mich. Investigators have reason to believe the assailant traveled a significant distance to commit the assault. The suspect is described as a white male in his 30s, approximately 5’8” to 6’ tall, with a fair amount of facial stubble hair, but not a full beard nor mustache. The man has light eyes, an average to athletic build and shorter well-kept hair. He was wearing a grayish green t-shirt, jean shorts and tennis shoes. A bright yellow Jeep Wrangler was seen in the area. It has a spare tire on the back with a yellow smiley face on it. Investigators are seeking information about this vehicle. Anyone with information or investigative leads please call the Michigan State Police toll-free at 1-866-411-0018.