Schoolcraft County, Mich. (WXYZ) - A Michigan native set who set out to be the first person ever to row solo around Lake Michigan said she was sexually assaulted on her trip this week.
27-year-old Jenn Gibbons did not intend to ride a bike around Lake Michigan. Her dream, according to her video, had been to row her boat to raise money for breast cancer patients.
“I decided to take on this personal challenge because I’m always asking the women to challenge themselves in so many ways,” she said on her promotional video.
She trained hard for it.
The Battle Creek native and former Michigan State University row team member now lives in Chicago. Gibbons made it her goal to row the 1,500 miles around Lake Michigan’s perimeter to raise $150,000 dollars for her non-profit organization Recovery on Water or ROW.
Plans changed after she said a man attacked her on her boat this past weekend. She helped Michigan State Police with a sketch of him. She told police the man broke into the cabin of her boat when she was docked in Schoolcraft County on the southern edge of the Upper Peninsula.
MSP investigators believe the man tracked her through her Internet posts and may have traveled a distance to sexually assault her. Gibbons managed to break free and call for help.
Just days after the attack she also managed to “get back to it” a quote from her Facebook page. She did not want to let what happened to her deter her from a cause she feels so deeply about.
Now she seems to be inspiring others who come to her Facebook page comment and blog to offer their support, helping her to become the first person to ever bike and row by themselves, the entire perimeter of Lake Michigan.
Gibbons will have company on the rest of her trip until it is complete. She blogged that friends have come to stay with her at night to make sure she is safe. Now she will also use a bike to help her on her trip.
7 Action News usually does not identify sexual assault victims by name, but Gibbons identified herself on her blog and on her Facebook account because she said she wanted to give hope and inspire others who have been sexually assaulted and because she did not want the attack to forever define her.
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