Rower Completes Lake Michigan Quest

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Wednesday, August 15, 2012 - 3:01pm

Assault didn't stop charity mission.

A rower who was sexually assaulted during her two-month cancer awareness trek around Lake Michigan returned Tuesday morning to rousing cheers on Chicago's shore.

Jenn Gibbons, founder and coach of Recovery on Water, completed her 1,500-mile journey around 10 a.m.

She left June 15 to become the first person to row solo around the perimeter of Lake Michigan.

Though her voyage started as a mission to raise awareness for cancer survivors, it ended Tuesday with Gibbons embracing a twin-cause as an advocate for victims of sexual assault.

"My trip didn't go exactly as planned," Gibbons said upon her return, "but I accomplished everything I wanted to accomplish. I still think there's more good people in the world than bad."

On July 22, while in an area south of Gulliver along Lake Michigan in Schoolcraft County, Michigan, Gibbons said 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 rower resumed her journey again shortly after the attack.

She resumed her trip after biking 500 to 700 miles along the shoreline to make up for lost time.

She also didn't reveal her exact location and traveled with a "pit crew" functioning as part road assistance and part security detail.

"I didn't get to pick all the roles I stepped into," she said Tuesday. "And I'm still healing and using exercise to recover myself."

Gibbons plans to take her advocacy even further.

She has plans to write a book and is looking for a publisher.

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