A paraplegic, Angela Madsen was a six-time Guinness World Record holder who found herself in the middle of trying her next feat: to become the first paraplegic and oldest woman to travel only from California to Hawaii.
“She kept telling us that if she died trying, she would want to go,” Madsen and Simi wrote in the letter.
The two wrote that rowing in an ocean solo was Madsen’s biggest goal and that she was willing to take that risk because “being at sea made her happier than anything else.”
“Angela was a warrior, as fierce as they come,” they wrote. “A life forged by incredible hardships, she overcame it all and advocated for the exact path she had charted for herself since childhood.”
A tragic journey
Madsen’s journey was the subject of a documentary, and he often appeared via satellite with his wife Debra and filmmakers.
She left Los Angeles and rowed approximately 1,114 nautical miles, which was 1,275 nautical miles from her destination in Honolulu. Madsen was alone at sea for 60 days.
On Sunday, June 21, Madsen checked in via satellite and said he was going into the water to fix the bow anchor. After not hearing from Madsen for several hours, a search and rescue operation began. The plane was shipped and the cargo ship was diverted to find her. The Coast Guard discovered her body, the letter said.
“A life forged by incredible hardships”
Madsen served as a Marine in her 20s when she suffered a back injury and had to undergo corrective back surgery. However, mistakes in the operation left her paraplegic.
While with the U.S. national team, Madsen won four gold and one silver medal at the World Championships during her career. She would go to the Paralympics three times where she won bronze in both rowing and shooting, the filmmakers said.
“I know that no matter what my goal in this life is, my otherwise capable, physically challenged, broken, beaten body seems to me a necessary vehicle to achieve this. … I am driven by intention; I may be in pain and not walking upright. in this life, but when I go home, I won’t suffer walking through the door I can live with it If I could go back and change things, I wouldn’t. At first I was furious. But now, I fully understand, “Madsen wrote in her memoir” Rowing Against the Wind. “
Madsen was an LGBTQ activist, after being chief marshal of the Long Beach Pride Parade in 2015. She was also a disability rights champion.
CNN’s Homero De La Fuente contributed to this report.
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