Sunday, December 14, 2008

Get Ready! Here We Go Again!

Get Ready! here we go again. Boat name and website under consideration, suggestions welcomed
Current mood: adventurous
Category: Goals, Plans, Hopes


Angela Madsen, Paraplegic woman who rowed across the Atlantic, joins 8 person crew in effort to break multiple records while attempting to row across the Indian Ocean.

Woodvale Challenge Ocean Rowing will be launching an 8 person crew to attempt a speed record. The crew of 8 will begin at the same time and location as the other boats in the Indian Ocean 2009 race and finish at the same location in much less time than it takes the other racers setting one of multiple records.

Speed record across the Indian Ocean.

No 8 man crew has ever rowed any ocean

Angela will be the first woman to have completed the Indian Ocean row (providing she gets there first and is the only female in the crew of 8)

Angela will be the First Paraplegic and woman with a disability to have ever rowed across the Indian Ocean and the first to Paraplegic and woman with a disability to have rowed across 2 oceans

Angela captured the title for first Paraplegic and woman with a disability to row across the Atlantic in the 2007 race completing the row in 66 days 23 hours and 24 minutes with Amputee French rowing partner Franck Festor. Website

At present there are only 2 individuals who are considered to have completed an entire crossing of the Indian Ocean, Anders Svedlund said to have crossed in 64 days back in 1971 and Simon Chalk who crossed in 107 days in 2003, so the gauntlet has been set and the getting the record is achievable.

The Route:

Geraldton, Western Australia – Port St Louis, Mauritius 3,100 nautical miles

The Date:

The start is scheduled for the 19th April 2009 in order to coincide with the start of the first ever ocean rowing race across the Indian Ocean the Indian Ocean Rowing Race 2009.

CONTACT: Angela at 562-434-8334

Debbie at 661-363-3864

Blogging at

More about the Indian Ocean Race 2009

The first ever ocean rowing race in the Southern Hemisphere has captured peoples imaginations around the World.

The race starts in Geraldton, Western Australia and forms part of a week of maritime celebrations. The local fishing fleet will escort the rowing boats away from the coastline and past a reef system some 60 miles off shore. The route will take teams over 3000 nautical miles across the Indian Ocean to the paradise island of Mauritius.

Teams from all over the World will compete on equal terms in solo, pair and four person teams. The start of the race is planned for April 2009 to miss the cyclone season that ends in between February and March. Fours teams should complete the crossing in around 60 days and pairs should be completed in around 80 days.

As ocean rowing races have proven in the past - the speed of crossing could increase dramatically as soon as teams are pitched in race classes against each other.
The weather won't be the same as the constant trade conditions of the mid-Atlantic. Teams will have to row every mile with a lower amount of support from both wind and currents. The temperatures will be high - especially close to Australia but then should cool as the race unfolds.

There is far less shipping in the Indian Ocean than in the Atlantic. There is less pollution and the wildlife is simply out of this World! Sharks, whales and dolphins will be common sight. Birdlife is ever present, shoals of fish will follow the boats, and the night time sky will be breathtaking.

The Indian Ocean Rowing Race will be the adventure of a lifetime.

More about Angela Madsen

Angela had back surgery in September 1993 to correct an injury she suffered while on duty in the military. The botched surgery, however, resulted in incorrect bone grafts and disabling injuries when a drill or screw pierced her spinal cord.

"One doctor told me my physical condition was a waste of human life. I decided to prove him, and everyone who thinks like him, wrong by making my life anything but a waste," Madsen said.

Since the spinal cord injury, Madsen has undergone a double mastectomy for breast cancer, and more surgery for carpal tunnel and ulnar nerve problems. She has also been diagnosed with myasthenia gravis, but medication has kept it under control.

Angela has since gone on to compete in the National Veterans Wheelchair Games, has competed in wheelchair basketball leagues, surfed in the Women's World Championships of Longboard surfing in Biarritz France and become an expert rower, specializing in adaptive rowing techniques -- those used by people who are differently abled.

Angela has gone on to become founder and director of California Adaptive Rowing Programs, a USRowing level III rowing coach and has been a member of the U.S. National Adaptive Rowing Team Member since 2002 Rowing in this years Paralympics in Beijing China.

Those interested in donating to Angela's quest can send donations to CARP
California Adaptive Rowing Program, 3350 E. Seventh St.,
231 Long Beach, Calif. 90804.

Donations should include the words "Ocean Rowing Project"
in the memo box of the check. Donations are tax
or PayPal is available at the website

CONTACT: Sports editors and other reporters may contact
Angela Madsen for interviews by e-mailing or by calling (562) 434-8334.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Veteran's Day Parade 2008, Long Beach, CA

Angela was an Honorary Grand Marshall of the Long Beach Veteran's Parade. After the parade the RowofLife Boat was on display at Houghton Park. It was a huge honor for Angela and she had an enjoyable day. Martha Thuente was our contact person and did a wonderful job communicating with us and making sure everything was fabulous. Dan Pressburg was all decked out in Patriotic attire and looked smashing.

At the park after the parade, the kids and adults alike had a great time climbing on the boat and chatting with Angela. Elijah, a Boy Scout from Roosevelt Elementary, marched in the parade and then came over to climb on the boat (well after a stop at the bouncing toys- of course). His parents were glowing at his parade performance.

We were able to talk to lots of people about CARP and may have even picked up a volunteer or two. Check out the slide show.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Questions and Answers by Angela

Questions and Answers by Angela

Rowing Classification question: I thought they would have separated by classes like in basketball?
We do have separation by classes however there are only three classifications for the sport of adaptive rowing. The physical differences for functional ability in the sport within those three are huge.

Adaptive rowing is a relatively new sport at the elite international level so the lines of classification shift to accommodate more people to help the sport grow plus
with only 4 events where do you draw the lines? Currently we have

W1X arms only women's single scull (no body swing, back, abdominal or leg)
M1X arms only men's single scull (no body swing, back, abdominal or leg)
TA2X trunk and arms mixed gender double scull (uses body swing, abdominal and back muscles)
LTA 4+ leg trunk and arms mixed gender, sliding seat, sweep rowing. The + is the coxswain or person in the boat who steers and verbally instructs the four people who are physically rowing the boat. The coxswain does not have a disability.

The 1X and 2X sculls are fixed seat for people who can't use their legs. In sculling each individual rower has both a port and starboard oar.
In 4+sweep rowing each rower has one oar and is either a port or a starboard. It is also referred to as crew.

As you can see there are only 3 classifications and 4 rowing events. We actually need more of both for fair competitions. I speculate at this point that if we had more of both, countries and coaches would just flood the events with more minimal disabled athletes just to win the medals leaving behind those that the sport/event was designed for. Until the lines of classification are etched in stone rather than being drawn in the sand, this is what I see happening.

I understand the need to accommodate to bring more athletes into the sport. So accommodate away with additional events and classifications! Now it is time to move on to the next level. I understand how we got where we are and its relationship to where we need to go in the future. Like most competitive athletes, I would prefer to compete against equals and similar levels of ability and to push myself harder than to have it be the other way around. I want to earn it! I think most athletes would agree. Personally, I want to do well because I have worked and trained hard not because I have a physical advantage in classification. I don't want to race against people who cannot place pressure on the foot plates nor do I want to race against those who can push on foot plates in the fixed seat boat. It is an all out 1000 meter sprint and winning can be determined by as little as a tenth of a second. Classification plays a big part and is sometimes referred to by our athletes as our first competition. There will be a significant difference between no pressure on the footplates, withstanding pressure and static load on footplates and actually pushing on footplates in all of the fixed seat categories. This is more evident in the single boat than the double because the two people in the double have differences. 2 people in a double who can push on the footplates will be faster than a boat where only one can push and one can just place pressure of static load. People in the sport who can place no pressure or bear no static load will be eliminated and have no opportunity to compete at the elite level of this sport. The addition of new straps to try and limit movement will only limit movement and will not inhibit the bodies neuromuscular response to static load.

As a retiring athlete it is no longer an issue that effects me however to continue as a coach, I too will have to seek out minimum disability athletes for elite competitive opportunities in the sport. We will all have to go for the highest level in classification and push to extend the lines of classification if we want to win medals. This is the growth of Adaptive rowing as I have witnessed it and experienced it since our first World Championships in 2002. This is what will be required of me as a coach and an adaptive program director. Maybe its the military training and not leaving anyone behind attitude that makes all this so difficult for me. I want to provide the opportunity to all levels of ability and not be part of the problem or responsible for taking those opportunities away from anyone based on the classification system. It is time to expand and change would probably require rattling some cages or making some waves. Some may not be happy with where they are when the lines are drawn and balance is achieved.

Where would you be if we were to expand events and classifications If you were not retiring? I would have loved to have rowed in a TA 1X against the other women rather than a double. With the rods in my back and doctors orders of no more TA rowing, I could go arms only legitimately but I would love to enter an LTA W1X with my braces on. I already tried to move up to LTA trying out for the 4+ but the rods in my back prevented me from achieving the body angle for sweep rowing. They also would not allow me to wear my orthodics in the boat. Without my braces my feet drop and turn sideways or pray. As soon as static load is applied my knees are out and I am on the sides of my feet which could cause injury if there is enough pressure. It was a good experience as a coach, I learned a great deal and realized that as much as I don't like to admit it, I am too physically limited by my disability to sweep row in a crew boat. In a single, matching doesn't matter, in sculling the torso does not rotate and I may get half slide if I can keep my braces on. I think I can and I prefer to try and move up rather than down in classification. Going against other women arms only rowers with my size, reach and strength would just not feel right to me. No offense meant to any women's single arms only rowers out there.

Are you retiring from the sport completely? it depends. Can I make a difference? or will I just have to go with the flow to stay in the game. I am more of a make waves type person and not much for going with the flow, unless the flow is headed towards a common goal and doesn't challenge me morally, ethically and spiritually. Some may think, we are here and this is it. Don't change a thing. Don,t make waves, be complacent and happy with where you are. I am not so sure I could go with the flow if that is where we are truly at in adaptive rowing. I could only agree that being where we are now and what we have been able to achieve is great ( If we were complacent we wouldn't be here). I also believe we are just getting started and there is a lot more that needs to be done.

My ambition would involve change. Adding more classifications and more events and to define and defend the lines of classification to ensure equal opportunity and fair play. This is not something I can do by myself and requires cooperation and effort from everyone involved in the sport. From the athletes and coaches to the international governing body of our sport. If adaptive rowing is going to be sedentary then I don't see the point in offering a continued commitment to its developement.

I made a commitment in 1998 to help develop the sport, a commitment in 2002 to my national adaptive rowing team and to my rowing partner to see this sport and him through the 2008 Paralympics. Its been a wonderful experience with many ups and downs. Having fulfilled my commitment to the best of my abilities. I am now free to move on. I am now available and can now continue to assist in the advancement of the sport of adaptive rowing at another level having all of the experiences of an elite athlete, an adaptive rowing program founder and director and a level III coach or (jokingly) I could retire completely from the sport of adaptive rowing and take up Frisbee golf.

I just love Q&A got any more for me?
keep the questions coming,


Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Rowing Race Results-Day One 9/9/08

Rowing Race Results-Day One

Well…..Madsen and Brown came in 4th in their heat. Their split time was good at 2:10 but their final time of 4:29 was slower than they had been rowing in Philly. I have not actually seen the race as it was not broadcast by anyone providing coverage to the US. Have I mentioned the I love World Rowing They were very quick to get the results up and have the race schedule up for tomorrow as well. They were also the only rowing website to give RowofLife coverage. US Rowing only gave coverage of the non US competitors in the Atlantic Rowing Race, go figure.

So, what does all this mean……Angela and Scott (William Scott) are in lane 2 in the first TA2x race tomorrow at 16:20 Beijing Time (1:20am pacific time Wed morn). In their race are Canada, Australia, UK, and Israel. The first 2 boats go to Final A and the 3rd boat goes to Final B and the others go home.

Other team notes……Ron Harvey came in 4th in his race, Laura Schwanger came in 1st in her race and has earned a place in the finals!, and the US LTA Coxed 4 came in 3rd.

Apparently has highlights of the games. I am watching the latest, but it is only from the morning and all I have seen so far is swimming, lots of swimming. Maybe later we will get a little rowing.


Sunday, September 7, 2008

Beijing Update 9/7/08 by Deb

Beijing Update by Debbie

Just a little update. It does not look like the rowing is going to be televised in this country, even on the web. The two places that are broadcasting on the web are and . The Universal sports site has events you can see on demand, after the fact, along with some as they are being shown. The opening ceremonies can be seen on Universal Sports as an on demand feature. I watched the Opening Ceremonies live on BBC announcers commentated the coverage. When the US team walked by they cut to the crowd to show fans waving flags rather than showing the athletes. I was saddened. I was able to pick Scott Brown out of the wheelchair athletes, but not Angela. She told me that she is just in front of Scott. I am going to watch the replay on Universal Sports to see if I can see more of the athletes. I started and did note that the commentary appears to be done by US commentators. I am hoping that their video coverage will be more athlete focused.

The Rowing events will start at midnight (Pacific Standard Time) Monday night/Tuesday morning for 3 nights. The Rowing finals will be starting at midnight (PST) Wednesday night/Thursday morning. I am now looking for coverage in a foreign country. The BBC is broadcasting, but only in the UK. I will probably tune into Paralympic Sport TV and hope they broadcast. I am going to shoot them some emails and hope for the best.

Angela is doing well. The rooms are nice. The cafeteria is open 24 hours. They have physical therapy staff that is providing daily massages. She has wireless internet in her room and has been able to communicate with me on Skype. Angela looks on Skype hoping to find friends on that she can call. You can find her on Skype by searching by her email address, . You can also email her. After she rows, she plans to start going to other events. She looks forward to seeing some of her friends play wheelchair basketball. The team is coming home on the 19th of September.

Angela is sending me the daily news for the US Paralympics’ team. You can look at it by looking at the following link

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Arrival in Beijing by Angela Madsen

Angela Madsen (USA TA2x) and Ron Harvey (USA AM1x)
Rowing venue in Beijing

The rowing venue is awesome! It felt really good to be on the water for the first time yesterday. The new boat feels good. Focusing on training, racing and keeping it very together with my rowing partner and coach. Staying hydrated and cool. It is hot and humid here much like Philadelphia so I am pretty well acclimated and my time in Philly is paying off. I am not allowing myself to get stressed out or worked up over anything. I am visualizing surfing for mental stress management, in fact I am wearing my Wheels to Water surfing rash guard and board shorts as I sit here returning e-mails, writing and listening to Superchick and Casting Crowns.

It is a much different atmosphere than our World Championships. We are integrated with our regular National Rowing Team at Worlds so there are more rowing events,more boats and many more people. The rowing venue is very quiet by comparison and we do miss our National Rowing Team. Congratulations to all of our Olympians! Go USA! On the other hand, in this experience we are housed with our national Paralympic Team. We all go to our sport specific venues during the day and socialize a bit over meals at the cafeteria and in the Paralympic Village with all the worlds Paralympians. We are meeting some really cool athletes and everyone has interesting stories, non that I can share "blogging restrictions"

With all of the blogging restrictions it is difficult to have anything to write about. Athletes have to take care not to violate the rules so many have decided not to blog at all. I on the other hand will just try and stay within the guidelines so I will apologize in advance for lack of content in pictures and in text. It was stated in our briefing that the rules and restrictions apply until 3 days post closing ceremonies and I am permitted to inform everyone that these rules are in effect.

It is a long bus ride to the venue every day but our practices are in the afternoon so no need to rise early and rush. We went to the shops yesterday and I did most all of my shopping. I always make gift bags for my three granddaughters. Amanda 13, Angel 7 and Cheyenne 5. I like to get my shopping done right away as many others do also but it was not super crowded. It is most likely because everything is efficiently managed here. Nothing feels crowded and everything is relaxed.

As other athletes are arriving the atmosphere is still very relaxed. I can't imagine it staying that way for long as opening ceremonies and the beginning of competition are just around the corner. Time goes by quickly here and today I finally got a wireless Internet signal where yesterday there was none. Excellent example of what can happen when effort is made in spite of previous negative results "never give up!'

Oars up!


Saturday, August 30, 2008

Where is Angela Now? by Debbie

Where’s Angela Now ?……by Debbie

Where is Angela? Angela left Philadelphia, PA on Friday, 8/29/08 for the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colorado. She went through processing there and will be headed for the airport at 1am Colorado time on 08/31/08 with the other USA Paralympic athletes. They will be headed to Beijing at 6am 8/31/08. Opening ceremonies will be 09/06/08. The rowing events will happen on 09/09 to 09/11/08. The rowing team returns to the US on 09/19/08. Angela is returning to Philly to get her car and driving back to California (If she remembers where it is. West, Miss Madsen, West.)

Viewing of the Paralympics. It looks like at this point, the best place to see the Paralympics is on They also have a YouTube channel with Paralympic athletes videos. I have requested that rowoflife be added and also my new video of Angela and Scott rowing on the Schuylkill River in PA. Universal Sports is also supposed to broadcast some of the Paralympics.

What is processing or I didn’t know they made hot dogs at the Olympic Training Center: The two days at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado were spent getting training on culture and customs and getting their gear. They have parade gear and their unisuits. For many of you the burning question is for the first time in 7 years….did they get a unisuit that fits Angela properly? NO. They did find a men’s extra large which fits better than the woman’s suit she had a first. She reports armpit bruises, but at least she can move her arms. The other burning question…..Has Angela says she has learned how to say she is not guilty or it is not her fault in Chinese? She says that she did, but she was not able to come up with the whole phrase for me on the phone, so let’s just hope she listened to her customs and culture training and does not end up getting arrested. Or at least if she is arrested it is by someone who speaks one of the 7 or so languages she can say it in. The paralympic team has been limited as to what they can say in blogs, so I hope you enjoyed your last two burning questions for awhile.

Row or Blow: Scott and Angela are ready to ROW! I watched them improve greatly during the 2+ months that Angela has been in Philly. They were rowing twice a day and going to the Gym 5 days a week and rowing once a day on the weekends. They look like a team of elite athletes. Check out the Bayada Regatta race on YouTube once I get it up. They are so in sync they were dressing alike and finishing each others’ sentences by the end of the last week. Their times have been amazing. I see medals in their future. Angela and I looked at them on the computer and she was particularly fond of the Gold one.

Blog: I hope to update you guys all as I get information, but my plans and what actually happens may be different. Angela should be able to get her email while she is in Beijing, and so send emails to support to


Sunday, August 17, 2008

Watching Paralympics on TV by Angela

watching the Paralympics on TV
Current mood: cheerful
Category: Sports

As the Beijing 2008 Paralympic Games are only a few days away, more and
more broadcasters are announcing their increased coverage and schedules
for this year's highlight. The Paralympics will be held from 6 to 17
September and are available for viewing all around the world.

"It is a thrill to see the audience that we will be reaching with the
Beijing 2008 Paralympic Games. With over 1,000 hours of coverage, this
is by far the largest broadcast of Paralympic Sport, and I welcome each
and every viewer to take advantage of this opportunity to witness these
exciting Paralympic Games", said Sir Philip Craven, IPC President.

BBC Television Great Britain will have live coverage and highlights
each day on either BBC1 or BBC2. Also included this year will be an
interactive element to their broadcasts. In20more detail, the Athletics,
Swimming, Wheelchair Basketball and Equestrian competition will each
have a camera designated for the sporting event, along with either a
commentary position or a reporter.

Both Chinese broadcasters will include two different channels in their
displaying of the events. CCTV will broadcast ten hours each day
throughout the Paralympics. BTV is planning to cover the Games from
8:00-22:30, 6 to 17 September on their BTV-6 station. This will have
live and replayed events, news and features.

In Canada, CBC Sports will be actively working with their CBC French
and English broadcasts for the Games. The CBC English station will have
two hours in the afternoon on 6, 7, 13 and 14 September. The CBC French
station will show two hours also in the afternoon on 20 and 21

In Brazil, the SPORTV Channel will have each day ten hours of live
competition, and six 30-minutes programmes. In addition to showing
these events and the Opening Ceremony on SPORTV, Brazil will have
coverage in the form or news and sports programmes on its other eight

Japan's NHK Production will have a daily highlight programme shown, in
addition to a 50-minutes documentary produced that will focus on the
competition side of the Paralympics When the Games have finished, NHK
plans on combining all the acquired material and re-edit it into
another documentary. The 80-minute piece will be titled, 8
0Glory of
Beijing Paralympics 2008".

In Spain, RTVE and the Spanish Paralympic Committee have agreed to
offer over 100 hours of Games coverage through several channels that
are part of the TV Corporation. This will be similar to what was
offered during ATHENS 2004. The coverage this year will include daily
broadcasting of two one-hour programmes on TV2 and Teledeporte, one of
them being the highlights of the day. A ten-minute, daily programme
special will also be part of the schedule on TV2, with additional
specials on TVE, RNE and Teledeporte hopes to have as much
live broadcasting as possible, focusing on Spanish athletes in
Athletics, Swimming and Cycling.

Australia will offer over 100 hours of live and highlights across the
major channels of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC). The
broadcaster plans on showing eight hours of daily live coverage on ABC2
and two, one-hour daily highlight packages on ABC1.

In South Africa, the major broadcasting station SABC will be showing
live coverage of the Games each day, including the Opening Ceremony on
their SABC2 channel. Additionally, the channel will have a delayed run
of the Closing Ceremony.

In Germany, broadcasters will also be extensively showing the Games
throughout the entire event, including Opening and Closing Ceremony.
Prominent channels ARD and ZDF will take over the majority of
broadcasting, with live coverage each day on its analogue
and digital

Adding on to that, Eurosport will also be including live broadcasts in
their channel's respective programming.

Furthermore, more than 32 European Broadcasting Union (EBU ) members
committed to cover the Beijing 2008 Paralympics from China.

For those fans of the Paralympic Games who do not live within the
territories of the rightsholding broadcasters, there will be coverage
available on www.ParalympicSport.TV, the IPC's internet TV channel.
Daily news and highlight shows will be offered on demand as well as
live coverage wherever possible. More than 150 hours of Paralympic
sports are already available on the channel, 24/7 free of charge, all
over the world. Additionally, daily news will also be shown on the
YouTube channel of ParalympicSport.TV at Fans of Paralympic Sport can also
join the group "Your Paralympic Moment" and upload video clips of their
special Paralympic Moment. The best clips will be released on
ParalympicSport.TV after the Games.


The International Paralympic Committee (IPC) is the global governing
body of the Paralympic Movement. The IPC organizes the Summer and
Winter Paralympic Games, and serves as the International Federation for
nine sports, for which it supervises and co-ordinates the World
Championships and other competitions. The IPC is committed to enabling
Paralympic athletes to achieve sporting excellence and to developing
sport opportunities for all persons with a disability from the beginner
to elite level. In addition, the IPC aims to promote the Paralympic
values, which include courage, determination, inspiration and equality.

Founded on 22 September 1989, the IPC is an international non-profit
organization formed and run by 162 National Paralympic Committees
(NPCs) from five regions and four disability specific international
sports federations (IOSDs). The IPC Headquarters and its management
team are located in Bonn, Germany.

For further information, please contact Steffi Klein, IPC Media and
Communications Senior Manager, on e-mail:
or go to and www.ParalympicSport.TV.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Paralympic Training by Angela

Paralympic training Current mood: tired Category: Sports
So training is going well. I want to thank and acknowledge those who have stepped up to the plate and supported our boat. We are the USA TA2X which is comprised of Scott Brown USA and Angela Madsen USA. I wished I had gone to this gym a lot sooner but I was busy trying to find a place to live. It is better late than never though and finally we are training like elite athletes. I had mentioned that we now had a trainer and a gym but did not disclose any details of how that came to be. My roommate Michelle and I were headed down the street and I saw a woman who looked like a trainer and looked like she had just come from the gym just down the street. I actually stopped her and asked if she knew where the accessible entrance was, or if there even was one at that particular health club. She did not know but actually took the time to walk back to the gym with us to inquire. She came out with a health club employee and we were shown the accessible entrance. I shared some of my story with her and she took great interest in helping us out. She volunteered to work with us as a trainer and if everything else had not worked out the way it had, we would have taken her up on her offer. If anyone wants to give her a shout out her name is Debbie Schafer. She is a local artist here in Philadelphia. Her website is e-mail
I had the pleasure of spending a little bit of time with her and shared more of the Rowoflife journey with her. I watched a video of her doing performance art. She is an awesome artist.
Once inside the gym I met with Irene Trantas, fitness service manager. I told her about the lack of professional training opportunities for elite Paralympic athletes in our sport and about our lack of funding and support. I cannot speak about other Paralympic sports. I only know what's going on in Adaptive rowing. She immediately met with management at the Philadelphia Sports clubs and got us each a months membership and a trainer. Irene also deserves a big shout out. I want to encourage everyone to drop these folks a line thanking them for there support. E-mail
I don't want to talk about the ones who couldn't step up and make these essentials happen for us but I do want to make sure we recognize the ones who have.
Fran Fulton from Liberty Resources. took me in for a couple of days and helped me find a place to live.
Michelle McCandless my roommate. Michelle is going into the hospital for surgery on the 19th. Please put her on your prayer lists.
Then there are the volunteers at PRPD Philadelphia Rowing Program for Disabled and Jeff Mcginess who help us boat out 2 times per day.
The carousel house where I volunteered during the day between rowing sessions is a pretty cool place to hang with the kids. Working the kids camps was a lot of fun. It was time well spent the kids are awesome. I think my favorite part was the talent show at the end of the week. Hanging with the kids, staff and volunteers made being so far from home much more tolerable. e-mail
I have presented and spoken to a few groups and schools in the local area.
I actually was on my way to a gig in New Jersey. I got part way there and realized it was the wrong day. I pulled into a Famous Dave's BBQ and decided to eat lunch. It was there that I met a photo journalism student named Kate Ruch. I shared my story with her and she volunteered her service. We have had a couple of sessions at the boathouse and the gym. E-mail
I know I usually blog about rigging details and about our times and more detailed workouts but I have to say, this Paralympic years blogs will not have such content. We are running silent and secret. We don't want to disclose too much info. For my friends who are worried I will row the Indian Ocean after Beijing I will disclose that I have ordered and received a great circle navigation chart of the Indian Ocean should I need it in the future!

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Race Results by Angela

AdaptiveRowing] Go Scott & Angela!!
Debbie Arenberg
Congratulations to Scott & Angela in their blazing Philadelphia Quaker City masters race this past weekend. Note their actual water finish times!! Yahoo!! Race 37, Mixed D-H 2x F/G Event 18 Final Water Water Place Lane Name Team Time Split Place Time 1 3 Redford Sargent Fairmount RA 4:04.36 1 4:37.26 2 2 Merry Jones Vesper BC B 4:11.90 7.54 2 4:39.3 1 Angela & Scott PRPD 4:16.87 12.51 4 4:48.07 4 4 Patrice Glover Swan Creek RC 4:17.84 13.48 3 4:47.44
In a field of able body rowers we did OK but we made a ton of mistakes and are not all that happy with this but that is why I am here. We have about one month more to train before going to Bejing. I worked yesterday on trying to find a gym and a trainer for us and may have come up with something? 24 hour fitness is one of US Rowings sponsors but they do not have a club within 50 miles of here. My training Stipen has pretty much already been spent on travel expenses and rent so there is really no money left over for anything else. Hmmm? roof over my head or gym & personal training? I am going with the roof and since I have already paid rent and parking upfront there really is no going back to the streets. No refunds! I am hoping to get a break and work a deal at a local fitness center that is located right next to the building where I am staying. I am not sure what anyone elses road to Beijing looks like but I can tell you mine is not paved.

Friday, July 11, 2008

My journey to Beijing and the Paralympics (by Angela)

I haven't written in a while and my friends have begun to worry about me. I could write an entire chapter on my experiance here so far but I am just going to summarize. I set out for Philladelphia quite a while ago and it has not been going so well. Some parts have gotten better and some things are just plain stressfull. For those who do not know, there is more to my life than being a disabled veteran, than ocean rowing, running an adaptive rowing program or even surfing. I have competed on our national adaptive rowing team since 2002 and my US rowing partner since 2002 is Scott Brown. Scott lives and works in Philadelphia. Since we don't recieve a great deal of money, sponsorship or support as disabled athletes I decided to relocate to Philadelphia for training with Scott. This enables Scott to remain employed while we train. We get on the water before he goes to work and then again after his work. It just seemed to make more sense than both of us leaving our home, our family and our work to train. Scott and his wife Sandy are appropriately appreciative of the sacrafices I have made for our national team and for our sport.I searched on Craigs list, called the Disabled Veterans Organizations, the Veterans Hospaital and even affiliate churches to my church in Long Beach to find an accessible room or apartment to rent here in Philly and had no success. After living in my van for almost 2 weeks I finally found a place to live. After spending 67 days in the small boat at sea with no plumbing, living in the van is a piece of cake. The van, by comparrison is a mansion with its many amenities , I could do it easily, but why?Not much help had been offered from anyone out here. At US Rowing Nationals in New Jersy US Rowing offered to let me shower at the boathouse. That was the only kind offer of assistance I had recieved from the rowing powers that be since embarking on my Journey to the Paralympics. My coach? who knows what is going on there? Sometimes, lately, I just want to get in my van and drive home. I have never quit or given less than 100% at anything in my life so that really is not an option! I made a commitment to my rowing partner and I am going to see it through no matter what! That pretty much summs it up for me.I know... usually I am Ms positive but sometimes it really does suck to be me! I don't know why it has to be this difficult? For the first time since my back surgery I can honestly say that I am feeling a bit depressed. I was thousands of miles from land in either direction on a small boat at sea with one man who did not speak my language and did not experiance, not even once, the kind of lonliness and isolation that this place has to offer. I miss my Partner Debbie, I miss my Family, I miss my Church, I miss my Friends, I miss my Home, I miss my ocean rowing boat (other home for most of the last year) I miss my friends and associates at California Paralysed Veterans Association. I have so many things I need to be doing like working on the book and documentary of the ocean crossing, remodeling my house, working on the rowoflife boat, getting back to the California Adaptive Rowing Program and even watching the grass grow. This is going to be a long three months. I am hoping to make it worthwhile by getting us onto the medal stand in Bejing. On another positive note:Thanks go out to Francis Fulton of Liberty Resources Center in Philadelphia who took me in for a couple of days and then helped me find an accessible place to live while I am here to train and to Michelle McCandless for accepting me as a roomate on short notice. These two people have extended hospitality and kindness to a complete stranger without any hesitation. They are my new heroes!Angela

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Even Madsen needs a Vacation

Surfing and Fishing in Hawaii, for a short break before leaving to Philly to train for the Paralympics. Photo is Angela dancing to the Polynesian music.

Monday, May 12, 2008

RowofLife Boat in Long Beach Pride Parade and more

RowofLife Boat in Long Beach Pride Parade
Photos Added 6/08 with Angela's Dad, Ronald Madsen, on the RowofLife boat in the Long Beach Pride Parade.
05/12/08 Original post date

The RowofLife Boat will be pulled in the Long Beach Pride Parade by the RowofLife Van on Sunday, 05/18/08. The special guests of RowofLife are Angela’s parents, Ronald and Betty Madsen. They are coming to visit on 05/13/08 and we are going to do lots of things with them, including participating in the Pride Parade with the RowofLife Boat. Boy About Town will be interviewing the Madsen’s in addition to many others from his Ocean Street Reporting location. Check out Boy’s Buzz, the hottest E-magazine around, at

Also this week, Angela is being honored by the Long Beach City Council on Tuesday night. Thanks to Boy for bringing this all together.

Angela and I are going to Hawaii for a little R&R later in the month. Hopefully the surf will be good. After that Angela will be heading for Philadelphia to train for the Paralympics with her rowing partner, Scott Brown.

We will be updating Angela’s MySpace with some pictures very soon. Continue to check out

CARP is going strong, but we are always looking for differently abled people to row and anyone to Volunteer. Call Vicki and come on out.


Back up and Blogging!

Well, I was locked out of my blog for a few weeks. Apparently something happened with my blog that caused it to be flagged as spam. I had not heard anything of the review I requested, but now I can get on, so clearly the review showed that my blog is a bunch of Crap, but not Spam.


Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Anglea and Debbie will be at this Screening and encourage you to come

I will be at the screening and will be available for Q&A. The Rowoflife boat may be on display at this event? should we be able to tow her through the parking structure to the roof, an adventure in itself!
Row Hard No Excuses Luke Wolbach
Run time: 88 min. USA A chronicle of the voyage of the only American entry in a rowing race across the Atlantic Ocean. It is both an exciting sports-adventure story and an intimate portrait of the two-man crew that explores masculinity, midlife and ambition. At 51 and 41, John Zeigler and Tom Mailhot are among the oldest competitors to participate in the 2001 Atlantic Rowing Challenge, a three thousand mile race from the Canary Islands to Barbados. They spend three years to make their dream of winning possible, but once on the water, their boat and their bodies don't respond as they'd imagined.
Movie: Row Hard No Excuses – Feature length Documentary·
Location: Edwards Islands Cinemas – Screen 6·
Time: 5:15 PM Date: Sunday, April 27th ·
Details and buy tickets:

Friday, April 11, 2008

RowofLife Boat

Yes, I do suck at Blogging. I try to be good, but...... My new solution is for you to subscribe and then you will know when a new one is up.

I wanted to let everyone know that we did make it home from Florida with the boat. We stopped in Naples, FL and saw Angela's Brother and Sister in Law, Jack and Hillary. Then to Tampa, FL to see my best friend, Carmen and her husband, Kevin. We went to Inverness to have work done on the boat by Angela's Dad and Mom, Ron and Betty. We were excited that Angela's Daughter, son in law, and granddaughters, Jenn, Ronnie, Amanda, Angel, and Chyenne, were able and come help with the boat as well. The grandkids cleaned the boat and her Dad patched holes that happened during shipping.

We stopped Alabama and saw Angela's Aunt Betty, Uncle Jeff and Brother, Ronnie. There was an event at the Chesapeake Boathouse in Oklahoma City, but the weather was so bad we could not put the boat in the water. We met Angela's friend, Christy, for Breakfast in Albuquerque, NM. Then we headed home.

The RowofLife boat is currently docked at the Dunster Reserve in Long Beach. Dunster is next to the Pete Archer Rowing Center (5750 Boathouse Ln, Long Beach, CA) where Angela teaches the California Adaptive Rowing Program. The boat will be at Dunster until the early morning hours of April 20th, when we will be taking it to the Huntington Beach Surf Museum for Surfing Sunday. It is going to the Newport Film Festival on the 27th of April.

Angela has made several appearances at community meetings to give her presentation. She will be available to make appearances until the end of May. After that she will be in Philly to train with her Paralympics’ rowing partner, Scott Brown. She leaves for the Paralympics on Sept 1st.

I wanted to see Angela on Ellen, Oprah, etc. but my efforts have not really gotten a response. I want to get everyone to write all the shows and see if we can get noticed with volumes of mail, instead on my one request. So anyone that wants to help me out, send letters. Ellen even had one of the English rowers from the race on her show, but has not our Local girl on. Thanks for your help in advance.


Friday, March 14, 2008

Florida Drama

Angela and I are in Florida. The RowofLife Boat was shipped from Antigua to Miami and arrived on 3/7/08. Silly us.....we thought that we could buy a trailer, drive to the port and pick up our boat. We did find a beautiful new trailer (just over cost) at All American Trailer, 512 SE 32nd Ct, Fort Lauderdale, FL. They were very nice and got us on our way to the Port of Miami. Well, it was all down hill from there. They wouldn't let us in to the port, and say we need to talk to a broker.

We called CGM who shipped the boat and they gave us the name of several brokers. Apparently when you ship something you have to get a broker to handle the US Customs piece. We found Alicia at Custom Brokers in Miami, FL. We thought that we would be able to pick up the trailer the Tuesday. Well Customs had some difficulty with our boat as they had not seen an ocean rowing boat before. Most boats are duty free, but because RowofLife does not have a sail or motor, it was classified like a canoe would be, and we paid duty on a $6000 canoe. Officers Cabrillo and Ramirez at the US Customs office were very helpful and our boat was finally freed.

In the mean time we were driving around Miami with our empty trailer. On Tuesday night, our brand new $3000 dollar trailer was stolen off our van. It was a very sad day for RowofLife. The Miami Police came out and took a report. But it was a devestating financial loss. Shipping was very expensive as well as the cost of driving to pick up the boat. But, everything happens for a reason, sometimes it is just hard to figure out what lesson we were supposed to learn from this all.

We talked to All American Trailer and they started looking all over the Ft Lauderdale/Miami area for a trailer for us. They also offered to loan us a trailer to get the boat until we could find a trailer. Later, when they could not find us a trailer they offered to make us one, if we would pay for some of the materials, they would donate labor and some of the other parts. So as of this morning, Joe and his guys are busy at work making a custom fit trailer for RowofLife. Thanks to Willie, Joe, Cindy and all the other helpful folks at All American Trailer. All American Trailer Mfg., 512 SE 32nd Ct., Ft Lauderdale, FL. 954-468-5544.

The trucking company, DM Trucking, on 77th and 24th in Miami, picked up the boat and delivered it to their yard on Thursday night. After much distress and plotting, they were able to get the boat out of the cargo container, on to a flat bed tow truck and then onto the loaner trailer ( All American loaned us a trailer to pick up the boat). Earlier that day WSVN Fox Channel 7 ( from Miami, came out and did a story on Angela and the loss of the trailer, in hopes having a our trailer found. The outpouring of support has been amazing. Many people called and have been supportive. Including a couple of bloggers from who hooked us up with some other organizations. Scott from Shadow Marine called, saying he had seen the story on the news and offered to pay for the part of the trailer that had not been donated from All American Trailer. Shadow Marine is located at 1535 SE 17th St, Suite B201, Ft. Lauderdale, FL 954-779-7099.

More on that to come later, but now I have to get ready to go down and pick up RowofLife from All American Trailer. Debbie

Sunday, February 17, 2008

RowofLife Arrives in Antigua

Angela and Franck crossed the finish line at 7:24 AM on 02/07/08' making Angela the first Differently Abled woman to ROW across the Atlantic Ocean. More to come, including photos.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

The END is Near

*Newsflash* The END is near!
02/06/08-9PM by Debbie, RowofLife Land Support from Antigua

8:44PM Antigua time-20 miles to FINISH! After a very tough day of rowing and our team felt like the 33 miles they had to the finish would take days, the end is near. Woodvale estimates that the RowofLife Boat should arrive at 7am Antigua time (11am UK, 3am California time) just shy of the 69th day on the water.

I have CCF’s card with money for beer and dinner for the team. My batteries for the camcorder and camera are charged. I have the big tripod; but am looking for the little one. The day I have been waiting for nearly 69 days is about to happen. It is 11 pm here and they are due in at 7 for now. But we are neck and neck with JW and they have been rowing just a bit quicker all day. They were at 18.6 miles to go at 8:43PM tonight. I will continue to get text messages all night as to progress for RowofLife, Jaydubyoo (JW), and Ocean Summit (who is about 5 hours behind us.)

All three of the support teams have been supportive of each other. If there was any way we could come in all together if would be fantastic. Bill and Hillary Jordan-White had dinner tonight with Papa Festor and me. It was our last supper without our rowers. We wonder what we will do without our dots to watch, but alas there will still be 8 boats on the water, after the three of us come in. The boat behind Ocean Summit is C2, with Ian and Andy; they have nearly 300 miles left to go! Angela and I will be in Antigua until the 15th of Feb. and hope to, like the boats in front of us, still be able to greet the next boats coming in. We would love to be able to see at least C2 (we had beer with them in La Gomera), Atlantic Jack (whom we battled in the middle of the race), Pygram (“Franck’s people”-the French Boat). If conditions stay good we may even get to see Silver Cloud (the Atlantic Angels), Barbara Ivy (Olympic athletes from the UK), 1 Charmed Life (A solo boat! His parents arrived today and were very nice). Even then, Dream Maker, the Nautical Nurses (who we were battling at the beginning of the race) and Spirit of Fernie (the second solo boat in the race), will still be on the water. Fernie has 516 miles to go.

I have met some incredible people both rowers, families, innocent bystanders caught up in my excitement (or whom I chased down to ask if they spoke French). Orlando from Go Commando ( ) was so kind and helped me figure out where to call and how to build a cradle to ship the boat home. He has really just been an overall amazingly kind soul, both in La Gomera and here in Antigua. He was the first to run up to the point with flares to welcome the boats and be back in time to see the teams get off the boat. He was hoping to see the RowofLife boat in, but he has been here since day 56 and his flight left at 2100 today. The families have been incredible to each other. I hope that some take up our offer to come to California and visit. Go Commando, Komale, Mission Atlantic, Ocean Summit, and JW, when the weather is raining and cold in the UK, come to the States; the exchange rate is fantastic, you know. The family from New Zealand who offered to take us out on their yacht if they were still here when our boat arrived (they also left today). And the Antiguan’s who took the RowofLife postcards from me and were gracious, even if they didn’t want them. So many good people from all over the world.
There is a whole giant group of people from our own Southern California community, whom I met after Angela’s departure, who have never even met Angela, but have done so much to make this story a success. BOY ABOUT TOWN!!!!! There is absolutely NO WAY I could have done this without you and Ruben and Sageweb! Boy you made the story known, even when no one wanted to hear it. You believed in someone you don’t even know, and worked on the team, as if she were your best friend. You are an amazing promoter and hilarious! I cannot wait for Angela to meet you all. The welcome home party will be a success because of you! Boy, you are a genuine and kind soul! Not to mention a heck of a blogger/newsletter writer extraordinaire. Everyone should read BOYABOUTTOWN Blog on a regular basis and subscribe to his newsletter, if for nothing else other than free entertainment.
Papa and Betty Madsen for being the Florida arm of the RowofLife PR department. Julie at the UPS store on Redondo and 7th in Long Beach. John Nunn and CCF for keeping the messages of encouragement coming in for all 68 days. Susannah Rosenblatt of the LA Times, Mary Ann of the Grunion, Ella at the LN, Melissa Bray (from New Zealand) of, Primes for having the welcome home party. Anita Coyoli (Ukes for Troops) for arranging the airport arrival and things military. I am sure I am missing a ton of folks, but my head will be clearer in a couple of days when I have been released from DOT rehab. OH! Did I mention BOY ABOUT TOWN! Thanks all of you and those who I will remember in the middle of the night, long after this has been posted.
PS: We will be starting a pool on how long it will take Angela’s bum to be normal again. More to follow in my next blog, after the legal team (Tiffany, this means you) has researched the legality of it all.

Debbie in rehab in Antigua (good thing no one at work reads this-they think I am on Holiday)

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

DOUBLE DIGITS-Less than 100 Miles to Go!

DOUBLE DIGITS-Less than 100 Miles to Go
02/05/08-by Debbie, RowofLife Land Support from Antigua

You may ask yourself, what does Antigua sound like in the morning? I have your answer, goats and chickens and roosters, OH MY! Papa Festor and I get music at the bar below us until at least 1am and animal sounds early in the morning. Good thing I bought Angela ear plugs in the Orlando Airport. How do you say earplugs in French? Hum, just easier to put them on my shopping list for my trip into St. Johns either later today or tomorrow.

As of 02/05/08 at 5AM GMT(UK time), 1AM Antigua time, Midnight Florida time, and 9PM(2/4/08) PST California time, Angela and Franck broke the Hundred mile barrier! They are 98 miles from Antigua. That is less than the trip from Bakersfield to Los Angeles; of course that would be a tough row. This week I hear that the boat might sled it quite well. Well did I mention it is about 85 degrees constantly in Antigua? I bought a fan and now on my big St John’s shopping trip I am going to buy and extension cord so I can put it where it will do some good.

Papa Festor, or Totor, as he likes to be called, and I made one trip to St John’s on Saturday. (Totor-Hum I have not translated that yet, I have no idea what it means, I hope that he is not making me say something not nice as a joke on the American-Nah, he is nicer than I.) Anyway, when I arrived at the Antigua Airport to pick up a solely French speaking man, whom I had never seen or met, I found they do not have flight arrival or departure TVs to tell what planes have come in. I waited by the exit of the customs area for a couple of hours waving my sign “Papa Franck Totor” (Hey don’t blame me, I didn’t make up the verbiage, that was all Franck and Totor), with the tiny little Row of Life postcard. The guard took mercy on me and went inside to find Totor. She asked me, what is his name? It occurred to me at that point that I really had no idea what his name was. I told her Totor and he only speaks French. After some time an airport representative came out and with an Older, shorter version of Franck, but with hair, and I knew. Totor was stuck at Immigration. They had no one that spoke French and Totor had no idea where he was staying anyway. They had me go into immigration and try to help and explain things. I told them where we were staying and they did not believe me. Wow, who knew they had a problem with immigration in Antigua. Don’t get me wrong, Antigua is lovely, the people are kind and allegedly they have some nice beaches that I have not had time to check out yet, but I will be happy to get home. Finally I produced the printout of my reservation and they let us go, I gave them a RowofLife Postcard for their troubles.

You thought this was over, not. Then we went to baggage claim. We found his bag, “miltari’’ said Totor of his camouflage duffel. (By the way, camouflage is considered offensive to the Antiguan people) The joy of finding it went to sadness when he realized that Franck’s hand crutches had been separated from the bag and now they are lost. Franck’s stump is infected and swollen to the point that he cannot put on his prosthesis and will need the hand crutches to get around. After more ANU airport drama we left and headed down the dark roads home, dodging goats, dogs, cows and people. It was a quiet ride.

Today, we are going to see Mission Atlantic come in. I was determined not to miss it as I had Pendovey Swift, so I told Totor that we had to be down at the Harbour at 4am, even though Woodvale said they wouldn’t be in until about 6am. Amanda from Woodvale was kind enough to put me on her paging list. So at 3am I got a page that said Mission Atlantic were still 10 miles out and would be in about 8-9am. I decided it was a little nuts to stand at the harbour in the pouring rain for 4 hours, so I went to Totor room to tell him we would go at 7:30am. Poor soul was showered and dressed.

Well I just got another page from Amanda; Mission Atlantic is 4.3 miles from the finish line, eta 8:30-9am and Komale is 5 miles behind them with an eta of 10:30-11am. Better go. It is 7:30 now and I am my not dressed, sweaty Antiguan weather self. Off to the shower and down to the dock to try and work my video camera.

My Estimate for Row of Life…..5PM Wednesday, just in time for dinner.


PS: His name is Berthold Festor.

Monday, February 4, 2008

LA Times! Susannah Rosenblatt, You Rock!

LA Times! Susannah Rosenblatt, You Rock!
02/04/08-By Debbie, RowofLife Land Support from Antigua

Okay, well before I give up the link…..All I got to say is……BOY ABOUT TOWN Angela spent an endless number of hours trying to get a little local and national media coverage for her RowofLife, without success. Boy About Town, who by the way has never actually even met Angela, responded to my request for help in publicizing this Epic Adventure. Who knew that getting publicity would be more of an adventure than the row itself? Two differently-abled people ROWING across the Atlantic Ocean, should be a snap, NOT! Anyway, after conversing with Boy and him checking out CARP (Angela’s rowing program), he took on our project for a small fee-NOTHING! If fact he has spent a lot of his own money to get this publicity push off the ground. (We should also thank Ruben, who has had to live through all this, and has been Boy’s unpaid foot soldier, in between his two other jobs- Need to buy or sell a house, contact Ruben At any rate, since Boy has been on the job, Angela has spoken via sat phone to several reporters. There have been articles in the Grunion Gazette and now the LA Times. The Blade Magazine has talked to her. She is going to be on the Sonny Bozeman Show Boy your are an amazing publicity getter.

Boy About Town is organizing and hosting at welcome home party for Angela at Primes in Long Beach on 02/22/08 at 5:30PM. The capacity is limited (look people I’m not rich!) for the meet and greet featuring snacks and a no host bar. Anyone can make reservations for Dinner at Primes, after the meet and greet, and still get to meet and greet because Angela and I will be staying for Dinner. You too can watch Angela eat one of her first meals back in California (just don’t look at me while I am eating). So RSVP to Boy or request dinner reservations at

OK and now what you have all been waiting for…….the link to “Pulling past limits and across the Atlantic” By Susannah Rosenblatt,1,3236527.story?page=2&cset=true&ctrack=1

PS: More from Antigua later….I gotta jump in the shower. Franck’s Dad is coming to get me for coffee at 9am and I don’t speak French, so I don’t know how to tell him to hold on! It has been a quiet few days……Parleyy pew Francine? I clearly don’t get it.


Friday, February 1, 2008



02/01/08—Debbie, RowofLife Land Support

Small little island southeast of Puerto Rico and North of a bunch of other little islands. Atlantic Ocean on the east, Caribbean Sea on the west. Mosquitoes that appear small but can bite like a small yapper dog. I have many mosquito bites on my ankles, but none really above my knees. One can of Off, $22EC

They use the Eastern Caribbean Dollar here. Finally I am traveling somewhere the exchange rate is better than the US Dollar, but things cost 3 times as much, double shot of espresso and a croissant $18. I am going to town today to look for a coffee maker and fan. It is 28C degrees here most of the time. No air in my room, so I am hoping for some circulation.

I rented a car here, thinking that it would be easier for Angela to get around in a car rather than depending on buses or taxis. Wheelchairs seem to cause those drivers a lot of stress. I had planned to get to Antigua before dark, but it was not to be. I was flying the Caribbean airline, Liat, and they were not really in a hurry. The Avis man was in a hurry, so he was gone by the time I got to the airport. I did find someone that would call Avis man who did finally came back to the Airport to present me my car. I ordered a standard size SUV, which in Antigua talk means a very small boxy little car; oh and the steering wheel is on the passenger side of the car. Apparently, they expect that you will drive your car on the wrong side of the road. Ok well, it was only 15 miles to my room, so I can handle that. I got directions and a map from the Avis man; “piece of cake,” I thought. There are not that many roads in Antigua…… well, I discovered there are not many marked roads that are on the map and there are lots of roads that turn to dirt that aren’t on the map. It is hard to turn around when the steering wheel is on the wrong side. Two hours later, I arrived at my room. I went to 3 of the 4 sides of the island; I nearly hit 3 cows, 15 goats, 5 donkeys and at least a hundred dogs. I am sure it is beautiful when it is light outside. I only turned onto the wrong side of the road once, thanks to two way roads. Tips….windshield wipers on the left side of the steering wheel, turn signal on the right side, seat belt right side, brake left side/gas on the right (thank goodness).

Well at least I won’t have to be alone here long. They were due in on the 3rd, well at least until the whole fleet of Atlantic Rowing Race boats came to a halt, due to weather. Some boats actually lost miles yesterday. So I accepted our 28 miles with a smile and revised the arrival date to 2/7. We are actually doing well. Komale was 101 miles ahead of us on 1/29 and now they are only 23 miles ahead of us. We passed Jaydubyoo (JW) and Ocean Summit yesterday. I spoke to Angela this morning and she was very upbeat. She said the weather is supposed to change to bad, but better than they are currently experiencing. Think good thoughts for some west winds.

I am picking up Franck’s father at the airport tonight. Angela and Franck have to hurry, his father only speaks French. Do you think it will help to speak to him in Spanish?

On the home front, Anita Coyoli-Cullen, is working on a welcoming at LAX when Angela returns on 02/20/08. Anita has is working to get our troops overseas Ukuleles, check out her website at This is one way to support the troops even if you don’t like the war.

The FABULOUS Boy About Town is working on a fantastic meet and greet at Primes Restaurant in Long Beach with a no host bar. If you plan to stay for dinner, you should call and make reservations; be sure to tell them that you are there with Boy About Town or Angela Madsen. I hear the food is amazing and Boy has already made Angela and I reservations. Go to Boy’s website for more details and don’t forget to subscribe to his newsletter. It is full of Fabulous goings on. It should also be noted that Boy met with the ever helpful Julie at the UPS store on 7th and Redondo, to make up invitations for the grand event. Contact Julie at

Well off to the “big” city of St John to find a fan and some power tools. I knew I should have packed my screw gun! Orlando and Ben of Go Commando were kind enough to help me with instructions on how to build a cradle for the boat to be shipped.


PS: I am not answering phone calls in Antigua, nor have I been able to get my messages. It is $2.50 a minute, according to ATT. You can email me or call me on Skype- debmole

Monday, January 28, 2008

The One That Got Thrown Away

The One That Got Thrown Away

2008 01 28-By Debbie, RowofLife Land Support

About a week ago……wow, I have been blog absent, which would have continued except for the fabulous little voice in my head telling me, “you need to blog, Deb!”….. Angela told me a little story she wanted me to include in the blog. Those were more jovial times; 60 miles a day, happy times….the days I feared that RowofLife would make it to Antigua, before Angela’s wheelchair and passport and Franck’s credit card and pictures of his kids, and me. That stuff and I would all be in some random airport (this is a low budget team….we will take 5 layovers, if we can go across the country for $100.) whilst Angela and Franck patiently waited in English Harbour for RowofLife Land Support to arrive. But the winds have changed, the pain and physical problems have increased, and now I will surely beat them to English Harbour, Antigua. But I digress….

A week ago, Angela asked me to tell you their fish story. Our team was rowing their hearts out; trying to get to Antigua for Angela’s granddaughter’s birthday (2/2) or John Nunn’s latest calculation of their arrival time (2/1). Just then a beautiful Marlin leapt from the water onto the deck of the boat. Now Angela and her brother, Cliff, went deep sea fishing twice in November, and nothing nearly that lovely graced their poles, let alone hopped upon the deck. Franck and Angela put the fish into a bucket of water, to keep him alive. It was such a beautiful fish; they decided take this moment as a photo opportunity. Both of them took pictures with the beautiful fish in the bucket. Apparently the dehydrated food isn’t that bad, because they decided that the fish needed to be free; off he must go to be with his friends and family, unlike Angela and Franck.

After saying their goodbyes, they tossed the fish back into the ocean. As he was being thrown back, he looked at them with his big dark eyes, as if to say, I jumped on your boat for a reason. He hit the water and Franck and Angela smiled anticipating their fish’s reunion with his family, feeling all warm and fuzzy inside watching the fish swim away, when all of the sudden a bigger fish came and gobbled their fish right up. And then they knew the reason why he had come to them in the first place…… fading……“The Circle of Life…..”

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Row of Life Passes Ocean Summit

Row of Life Passes Ocean Summit

01/16/2008 6PM GMT-By Debbie, RowofLife Land Support

On 01/14/08 at midnight, RowofLife was 67 miles behind Ocean Summit. Today, 01/16/08, at 6PM GMT RowofLife passed Ocean Summit. In 2.5 days RowofLife rowed 69 miles farther than Ocean Summit. Now their sights are on Mission Atlantic. MA is only 5 miles in front of RowofLife as of 6PM today. After Mission Atlantic the next boat is Komale. They are only 47 miles ahead of RowofLife as of 6PM GMT today. Franck and Angela have been rowing their hearts out and it shows. Clearly they are really in a hurry to get to Antigua to partake of the Dinner and Drinks being provided by Christy CF. Thanks for all your support.

Boy About Town has been working tirelessly on getting press releases out. He has reworked the press release and sent it out to lots of different media outlets. If any of you would like to send out the press release to your local media outlets, email me at and I will forward it to you. I think we need to blitz the media as much as possible. This is a fantastic story and it has gotten no press. Maybe if we all email the press release to everyone (Local news, TV, Radio, print media, Oprah, Ellen, The View, Regis, etc) they could not ignore it. Let’s get Angela and Franck the press they deserve to share their inspirational story with other people. It would be nice for Differently-Abled people to realize they can do anything and for Able folks to realize it too.

Piss On You

Piss on You

01/12/08—By Debbie, RowofLife Land Support

The clouds gathered over the RowofLife boat. Angela excited to get a shower, gathered her soap and shampoo and waited…….but it was not to happen. Barely enough water fell to get her wet. She pointed to the clouds and yelled, “Piss on you!” Franck, thinking Angela was teaching him some English, now points upward when he sees clouds and says, “Piss on you!”

Boy About Town was locked out of his blog for many days. Proving that a Boy without his blog is down, but not out, Boy created a new super fabulous website. Boy has done an amazing amount of footwork. He has generated more interest and gotten more publicity for RowofLife and CARP in a couple of weeks, than there has been in months. Thanks Patric!

I also wanted to send out a giant thanks to Julie at the UPS Store #5658 at 7th and Redondo in Long Beach, CA. Julie has helped RowofLife and CARP with printing, copying, shipping, banners, and moral support. She has risen to the occasion when our poor planning has created rush jobs for her. We couldn’t have done it without Julie!



3350 E 7TH ST

Phone: (562) 434-8595
Fax: (562) 434-8325

E-mail The UPS Store #5658

Green Sea Pringles

Green Sea Pringles

01/10/2008 (well that is when I started it) By Debbie-Land support

It is never good when an expensive Satellite phone call starts out, “Mommy Margo (my mother who went to La Gomera and helped pack the food for the trip) conspired with Franck to fill this boat with Junk Food!” Angela followed with a short rant providing evidence that there was a conspiracy but that it had now been foiled by the powers that be. That was followed by an evil laugh. Confused? Well I was. So I shall start from the beginning, which is what Angela did after I got her to stop laughing.

At the beginning of January, Franck had “cracked” the hatch for air and a large wave subsequently flooded the cabin. Angela had him take all the things out of the cabin and hung them to dry. The cabin was mopped up and all was well, or so it seemed….. Franck decided to get into his secret stash of Junk Food about a week later. Angela says that Franck and Mommy Margo, sneaked (actually I believe the word was conspired) a stash of junk food in one of the deck hatches in the cabin, without Angela’s knowledge. (It should be noted that my mom denies any knowledge of said junk food being placed in the deck hatch, further, she denies that she ever stepped foot on the boat.) Franck decided that he would break into to his stash, and much to his surprise the deck hatch had leaked. Boxes of Kleenex and Franck’s cookies, Pringles, etc. were soaked. Not recently, put them out to dry kind of soaked, but the green sea water mold soaked. Franck, desperate for junk food, decided that green mold with sea salt flavored Pringles, might just do the trick. The consensus on the new flavor…..Not Bad! Clearly they have been on the water too long.

On the upside….Angela says the boat is much lighter with the wet Kleenex and cardboard junk food cans gone.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Fish like Raisins

Fish like Raisins

RowofLife has past the Half Way Point and are on the downhill slide into Antigua. Well, at least they are more than half way to Antigua. On 1/8/08 as of 6PM GMT (10am PST) Angela and Franck had rowed 1279 Nautical Miles of the 2552 nm it will take them to get to Antigua. As timing would have it they called on the Sat Phone just after Woodvale posted the mileage on the website. When I told them they could be heard hooting and howling!

They have been rowing 7 shifts of one hour together every day, adding an extra shift or two when they could. They row an hour, take a 15 minute break, and then row another hour….. They have been putting out the sea anchor and sleeping at night, hope that the sleep will help them heal their bodies and stay healthy for the rest of the row. On 1/7/08 they rowed 5 extra shifts (clearly neither of them are good at moderation) to make some ground on the boats in front of them and to keep the boats behind them at bay. The 12 hours of rowing made a difference as they logged 54 miles on that day. They are both competitive so my plan is to tell them that a boat is catching them or they are catching up to a boat, so they row faster and get to Antigua quicker. Just kidding…..I just report the facts to them.

Franck took a swim on the 6th to check out the barnacle situation on the bottom of the boat. They were pleasantly surprised that the anti-fouling paint they painted with seems to be working and they had very few hitchhikers.

They saw lots of 30 lb Dorado swimming below the boat. Angela said they did not want to stop rowing to try and catch them. Dehydrated food for 39 days and you don’t want to stop and catch a 30 lb Dorado, HUM. I will warn you that Angela does fish, so this may just be a fish tale to make her brother, Cliff, jealous. Angela says that she did learn something about fish; they like raisins but not so much the nuts of the stale trail mix.

On the home front, Boy About Town, , has been working diligently to get Angela and CARP (California Adaptive Rowing Program, ) some publicity. He has arranged to have a link to CARP put on Long Beach Online ( ) and Local Huntington Beach ( ) They are also running this blog on the “Local Blogs” sections. Both are excellent websites for locals and visitors alike. They give restaurant suggestions, local events and hotels. Take a look and see all these towns have to offer. Boy About Town also got the Center in Long Beach to feature Angela’s crossing in the next newsletter. Boy’s blog is side splitting funny. You should take a gander, he is really a talent. Follow him now and you can say sometime in the future, I knew him when…….. This Boy is going places.

Karin Falcone of Able News ( ) also published an article on RowofLife. Thanks Karin! Also, World Rowing wrote an article about Angela and Franck in their news section. I cannot find the name of the author, or the email that she sent me, so I apologize for that. If she emails me again I will credit her in a future blog. ( )

Thanks for reading, Debbie

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Angela's Story

Angela’s Story

I have met so many new people who are supporting RowofLife. Many of them knew nothing of RowofLife until after Angela and Franck were on their journey across the Atlantic Ocean. Many people have never actually met Angela or Franck, which is really a shame because they are both AMAZING, INSPIRING people. I am often asked what happened that caused Angela to be in a wheelchair. Because of that, I think I might be worth a little look back at who they are and where they have been. So I am putting Angela’s story on this blog, exactly as it was written by her:

Angela Madsen Vita mutatur, non tollitur: Latin translated: Life is changed, not taken away

In September of 1993, I underwent back surgery for an injury I sustained while on duty in the military. My goal was to be walking and surfing within one year. The Surgery went very badly and many mistakes were made. I was to have a spinal fusion of two levels of the lumbar spine. They were to be installing bone graft (from my hip) replacements of the discs and Herrington rods with pedicle screws. The hardware was ordered for the two levels and was ready. The doctors mistakenly started at the wrong level making it necessary to fuse an additional level. They had to go to the bone bank for more bone graft for the additional level. This also changed the hardware. The procedure that was to take 4 hours took 10 and ½ hours. When they were installing the hardware, they reportedly installed the rods and crossbars out of numeric sequence and had to take it all apart and start over. The bone grafts were installed improperly and all three are left side wedged with the upper one protruding outward, impinging on the descending aorta. Sometime during the procedure, they also compromised my spinal cord by either drilling or placing one of the screws through the dural sac and into the spinal cord. None of these conditions was repaired and I was just left to suffer. I am in extreme amounts of pain constantly. One of the physicians at the hospital at one time said, "My physical condition was a waste of human life" I received very little if any physical therapy or rehab. I had to do it on my own. I had to revise my goals. I did not give up!

I am a Spinal Cord Injury L1 incomplete. I have had a bilateral mastectomy for breast cancer and have had to undergo surgery for carpal tunnel and ulnar nerve. I have been diagnosed with myasthenia Gravis but seem to have it under control with medication. No matter what seems to come my way in the way of challenges, God gives me the strength to overcome. I have managed to be successful and I have increased my competition times in rowing and have made many improvements in my surfing in spite of everything that presents obstacles and physical barriers. I have grown and continue to grow stronger physically, spiritually, emotionally and mentally.

I have used my athletic abilities and gifts to become a strong advocate for human rights and rights of people with disabilities. I do some public speaking at large human rights events as well as small local schools and events. I was in the mechanical engineering field designing high-speed pneumatic labeling machines before my surgery. During my hospitalization, I lost everything.

Since my failed back surgery, I have the most fantastic life!

I have continued on my journey utilizing my gifts. I have excelled at wheelchair and adaptive sports. Through wheelchair Basketball and Casa Colina Rehab Center in Pomona, I was introduced to the sport of rowing. I excelled at adaptive rowing with equal passion and as much natural ability as in my PWC life (pre-wheelchair).

I became a rowing coach and started an adaptive rowing program. I began teaching other differently abled people to row. I work with all abilities and ages. I discovered that they learn much more than how to row. As I did, they learn how to live through sport, how to set and accomplish goals, on and off the water in their every day lives, how to be more outgoing and social, more confident, How to be winners, how to accept losses, they grow and move on with a more positive and enthusiastic outlook for the future. How to live to accept and take on the challenges of life and not be challenged by living. I get to be a part of the good that transpires in lives of the people I work with. I love this life. If I could go back in time and change it, I would not.

I used my mechanical engineering background and problem solving skills to properly rig boats and position adaptive fixed seat rowers in boats so they could safely participate in the sport. I determined how to rig the boats not only for regular adaptive rowers but also for elite fixed seat rowers. I developed rigging methods to make the boats go faster.

My first trip to the World Championships of Rowing was Seville, Spain in 2002. There were few women in the sport then and none in fixed seats at the event so we canceled the double rowing event and I went on to participate in the event in singles. I competed against the men in the event. My double rowing partner Scott Brown won the Gold, I won a silver medal, and Australian won the bronze medal. I have been to five World Championships of rowing and am a four time gold medalist. 2003 was Milan Italy, 2004 Banyoles Spain, 2005 Gifu Japan, and 2006 Eton England. Adaptive rowing had submitted the application for full inclusion in the Paralympics and has since been approved. My long forgotten aspirations of becoming an elite athlete and dreaming of one day competing in the Olympics are once again realized with Adaptive Rowing Inclusion into the Paralympics in Beijing in 2008.

I know what it is to suffer. I know what it is to feel hopeless. I know what it feels like to give up on dreams and goals. I also know what a mistake it is to give up on dreams and goals.

I know what it is to be as that doctor described my physical condition “a Waste of human life.” At that particular time in my life, his description fit. I was truly a waste of human life. I was not doing anything to improve my situation and I definitely was not doing anything for anyone else either.

I was only being angry, questioning why me, being pathetic and hopeless. It was so easy to give up and give in to despair. The only thing I could count was my losses and not my blessings. At the time, the losses were so much greater and I never could see how what had happened to me could actually be a blessing until I began moving on with my new and different life. It is not easy to move on into such an uncertain future. I was not seeing hope for anything positive and meaningful, just anticipating a life of pain and suffering. When I began participating in sports again, it was familiar. It was different, yet the same. A vehicle to restore me, to restore hope, Arise the competitive spirit. I have never looked back or ever felt as completely hopeless as I did back then. I cannot imagine ever feeling like that again. I have many more blessings now to count than I will ever suffer losses. I have had the most fantastic life.

There is still great pain and suffering and through aging and degeneration, my physical condition is sure to deteriorate. Sooner than I would like, I am sure to require another surgery. The thought of going back to that place physically, being dependent on others and being at the mercy of others, not being as mobile or independent, being less able to participate in sports as I do now or not being able to participate at all absolutely terrifies me but I know I will never again be a waste of human life.

I am sure to come full circle and blessed to have not had to stay in one place.

RowofLife Journey-YouTube Video by Sageweb