"I got this."
There’s more than one way to travel around Lake Michigan. Jenn Gibbons, the 27-year-old rowing coach who was sexually assaulted on her rowboat on Sunday, is now vying to become the first person to row – and bike – around the 1,500 mile perimeter.
Standing in front of her new wheels this morning, Gibbons grinned while holding a sign that said, “Getting back to it. I got this. Go ROW (Recovery on Water).
“When I took this (self portrait) and smiled, I realized it was the first time I'd really smiled in days," Gibbons wrote above the photo, which she posted on her Facebook page. “It felt great. Thank you for the bike and equipment Ron (Boi) -- this would not be possible without you.”
Boi, owner of RBB Cycles and an ardent Gibbons supporter, made it clear that “for now, it’s not about the bike. It is about Jenn and her level of courage,” he said in an email.
“As she writes in her blog, this crime against her will not define her. So, she is the story…her journey and (it’s about) the ladies she leads in Recovery on Water.”
In June, Gibbons embarked on the relentless endurance challenge to raise awareness and money for Recovery on Water, the rowing team for breast cancer survivors that she founded. More than a month into grueling journey, which was marked by other physical and emotional challenges, she was attacked while sleeping in Liv, her self contained rowing vessel.
Gibbons, who went public with the information, never wanted the trip to be about her. Before she left, she told me her biggest concern – in addition to the mind numbing boredom -- was that she make the journey a “successful fundraising and awareness event” so ROW could shine. "These women (I work with) are so inspiring. I’d hate for it to be all about me,” she said.
But now that it has become about Gibbons, she's speaking out, hoping that others can learn and draw inspiration from her experiences, good and bad. The trip was initially described as “One woman. One Great Lake. One great cause.” Now, in a black and white photo on row4row.org, Gibbons stands proudly, with her hands on her hips, under the words, “Be changed by what happens to me.”Copyright © 2015, RedEye