Angela Madsen won a bronze medal in shot put at the 2012 London Paralympic Games. For most paraplegics thatwould be the triumph of a lifetime, but Angela is a special individual whose achievements include rowing across the Atlantic (twice), rowing across the Indian Ocean and circumnavigating Great Britain by oar. In the Summer of 2014 she competed her most extraordinary challenge yet — rowing from Long Beach, California to Hawaii.
Madsen’s story dates way back to 1993. That year, she underwent back surgery for an injury that she sustained while serving as a Marine. Her goal was to be walking within a year of the procedure. Unfortunately, that was not to be, as the surgery went horribly wrong and left Angela a paraplegic.
Prior to surgery, Angela was an exceptional motivational speaker, an advocate for human rights, a mechanical engineer and also athletically gifted. After the incident, she was left with little more than her incredible fighting spirit. For most, this would be an unimaginable hardship, but for Angela it became the opposite.
Soon after, she founded the California Adaptive Rowing Program (CARP), a non-profit that provides instruction and training to physically and developmentally challenged individuals. She used her engineering background to create rowboats that could accommodate disabled rowers.
In 2002, Angela first competed in the Rowing World Championships. She would go on to compete in four more world championships, earning five medals (four of them gold!).
She also competed in the 2008 Beijing Paralympics in the sport of rowing, and then in the 2012 Paralympic Games in shot put and javelin, where she earned bronze despite being new to the sport.
In May 2014, Angela and her rowing partner Tara Remington boarded their 19-foot vessel The Spirit of Orlando and embarked on a 2,558-mile journey. They spent 60 days at sea, often in extremely perilous conditions.
When they reached their destination on July 19 the 54-year-old grandmother and military veteran from Long Beach became the first paraplegic to row across the Pacific.