Sexually assaulted rower undeterred for good cause


I read about this in the Chicago Sun-Times

Jenn Gibbons, a 27 year old Chicago woman, who’s rowing 1,500 miles along the entire coast of Lake Michigan in an effort to raise money for breast cancer had made a point of using a blog to keep supporters aware of her journey. Earlier this week, a man used this transparency against her when he estimated Gibbons’ whereabouts. In the evening, with the rower asleep in the cabin of her boat, the man broke in and sexually assulted her.

She was in the middle of nowhere and alone. She was able to give a pretty good description of the attacker to authorities (white man, early thirties, about 6 feet tall, stubble on his beard, drove a yellow Jeep Wrangler.) Gibbons said that the man told her he knew where to find her and referred to her by name, according to the Chicago Sun-Times. All sexual assault is terrible, heinous, and violating. But this individual also decided to stalk and hunt down this woman who’s trying to make a positive contribution to the world.

Gibbons has decided to finish what she started. She’s not going to allow the coward that did this to control her. On a blog post from yesterday, Gibbons said “I’ve still got this…My chin is up, my eyes are open, and we’re going to get this show back on the road (then water).” There is still work to be done though as far as support. She’s raised a little over $86,000 but her goal is $150,000. If you’re reading this and are inspired by her story, and have a couple bucks, I would encourage you to learn more about her cause (here).

In an interview, the Chicago Sun-Times quotes Gibbons as saying, ““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,” she said. “And the only way to deal with that is to talk about this and ask for support.”

Gibbons, a former college rower at Michigan State University, also co-founded an organization called Recovery on Water (ROW) in 2008 which serves as a fitness and support group which teaches breast cancer survivors how to row.

The fact that Ms. Gibbons was willing to go on this journey in the first place was impressive enough. After this assault, no one would have blamed her for discontinuing or rescheduling this trip. For her commitment, her perseverance, and her courage, this is a woman who will always have my respect.