After two months on the water and a series of obstacles, Lake Michigan rower and breast cancer awareness advocate Jenn Gibbons will reach Chicago shores Tuesday to complete her journey.
Gibbons, founder and coach of Recovery on Water, left June 15 from Chicago to become the first Lake Michigan solo rower. Her two-month trip was designed to raise awareness for the role exercise plays in the fight against breast cancer as she advocated in ports along the way.
Though her voyage started as a mission to raise awareness for cancer survivors, it will end Tuesday with Gibbons embracing a twin-cause as an advocate for victims of sexual assault.
On Sunday, July 22 while in an area south of Gulliver along Lake Michigan in Mueller Township, Schoolcraft County, Mich., she says a man boarded her boat and assaulted her.
Police believe Gibbons' attacker traveled a significant distance, perhaps following her on the Internet.
The sexual assault hindered her travels only momentarily, and the advocating rower resumed her journey again shortly after.
"This is an experience that changes my trip. Because I need to be safer. But it doesn't mean that it has to become such an overwhelming aspect of what I'm doing that I can't go on," she said. "I'm glad that my voice is heard because so many women who are sexually assaulted are never heard, and this is one way my voice can help."
She resumed her trip on the water after biking 500 to 700 miles along the shoreline to make up for lost time.
Her rowing journey has made waves across the Midwest and, to date, Gibbons has raised more than $100,000 for her organization.