Almost two months after rower Jenn Gibbons embarked on a 1,500-mile solo rowing trip to raise awareness and funds for the breast cancer recovery group she leads, the 27-year-old and her vessel, Liv, returned to Chicago shores Tuesday.
But during one of many nights Gibbons spent sleeping in her vessel, a man police believe was tracking her movements online broke into her cabin and sexually assaulted her while she was moored along the shore of Michigan's Upper Peninsula.
Not only did Gibbons make the difficult decision to speak out about her assault, working with police to generate a sketch of her attacker, she vowed to finish the journey she had started, and continued from Michigan back to Chicago on land (by bicycle) and water, returning one day shy of her 2-month goal.
"My trip didn't go exactly as planned," Gibbons told NBC Chicago upon her return, "but I accomplished everything I wanted to accomplish. I still think there's more good people in the world than bad."
Sponsor donations for the trip ("Row4ROW") helped Gibbons raise more than $45,000 for Recovery on Water (ROW), a rowing team of breast cancer survivors she co-founded in 2007 and coaches. The group follows the wisdom Gibbons has preached for years: Regular exercise is a crucial step in recovering from breast cancer and preventing its return.
Need help? In the U.S., call 1-800-656-HOPE for the National Sexual Assault Online Hotline.