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Bravery in face of darkness

July 26, 2012
The Daily Mining Gazette

As reported by many news outlets nationwide, Sunday in the early morning hours near Manistique, 27-year-old Jenn Gibbons was prepping for a rowing trip around Lake Michigan when she was sexually assaulted by an unknown assailant.

What many people don't know is the Chicago resident was rowing around the lake to raise more than $150,000 for cancer.

Gibbons is just one person in a long and exhaustive journey to raise money for breast cancer survivors, with plans to row the entire 1,500-mile perimeter of Lake Michigan for Recovery on Water, a charity rowing team she founded. She was hoping to become the first person to row the entire perimeter of Lake Michigan solo.

Sunday, just a few weeks into her trip, the vile act took place; an incident that would cause anyone to rescind such an endeavor. But Gibbons remains intransigent.

Through her blog, she painted the picture of the perfect journey.

Friday, Gibbons took to her Facebook page to write about her trip. She had already rowed 20 miles that day and wrote about how she met a cancer survivor and shared hugs and stories. "It was a good day full of stories and adventure and a darn good row," she wrote.

Saturday, she wrote about her excitement and fear for the weather while in the Upper Peninsula and her adventures at the Seul Choix Lighthouse.

Monday, a message appeared on her Facebook wall, telling more than 1,500 followers Gibbons was attacked when a man boarded her boat before she was to leave for a rowing trip to Beaver Island.

Police believe the attacker traveled a significant distance to commit the assault and could have pinpointed her location by following her blog.

Tuesday, she took to her Facebook page to let her followers know she refuses to be deterred in her journey.

"I know that I had a choice in telling people about the details of my attack, particularly that it was a sexual assault. To go through this at all, let alone publicly, is extremely difficult. I chose to talk about it in the hope that someone might be able to provide more information about the person who did this to me," she wrote.

Gibbons should be commended for her bravery to step forward and share her story, as many victims refuse out of fear or embarrassment. A perpetrator took advantage of a single woman trying to raise money for a cause important to her and many others, and for that reason, she chose to speak out.

Police describe the attacker as a white man in his 30s, between 5 foot, 8 inches and 6 feet tall, with facial stubble, short hair and light eyes. At the time of the attack, he was wearing a grey/green T-shirt, jean shorts and tennis shoes. A yellow Jeep Wrangler was seen in the area at the time of the attack.

Anyone with information is encouraged to contact the police.

"Regarding the trip, one thing hasn't changed: I've still got this," she wrote Tuesday, adding she will no longer be traveling alone for the remainder of the trip.

Support for Gibbons can be made by visiting row4row.org.

 
 

 

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