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This Woman Wants to Row Across the Pacific

Angela Madsen began her career by entering the military right after high school. She was injured, and after more than a decade of spinal degradation, a poorly executed surgery permanently placed her in a wheelchair. Since then she’s become a three-time Paralympic rower and has a new goal: becoming the oldest woman to row from Los Angeles to Hawaii. This trailer for Row of Life, from filmmaker Soraya Simi, provides insight into the harrowing journey she’ll be undertaking.

Video Transcript

[WATER SPLASHING] ANGELA MADSEN: Next spring I am going to row to Hawaii solo. I have one failed attempt. I have one successful completion with another person, and I'm going to go for my solo attempt again. 

[SOFT ROCK MUSIC] 

Enlisted in the Marine Corps out of high school, got injured in the Marine Corps, got discharged. 

RADIO: [INAUDIBLE] 18 seconds. Sea temperature 64 degrees. 

SUBJECT: Lived life, 13 years of degeneration, had to have a back surgery at the VA, they took out the wrong disc, put the bone grafts in wrong, drilled a hole and compromised my spinal cord in the surgery. Lost everything, became homeless vet, two years later, went to the Veterans Wheelchair Games and got back into sports, and never stopped since. 

ANNOUNCER: United States partnership between Scott Brown and Angela Madsen, unbeaten for the past four years. 

No surprises why Madsen and Brown are in the lead there. Fantastic upper body strength, particularly from Angela Madsen. 

INTERVIEWER 1: You are an inspiration to many, and maybe you could tell America a little bit more about what you've been doing when it comes to your rowing accomplishments. 

ANGELA MADSEN: All right, well, I have six Guinness world records for rowing across ocean. 

INTERVIEWER 2: You're so amazing. What is your secret? 

ANGELA MADSEN: One stroke at a time, just always after the next stroke, when you think you can't go on. It's basically about not allowing situation and circumstance dictate who you're going to be and what you're going to be able to achieve. 

[ROCK MUSIC] 

I just want to have that accomplishment of rowing by myself. I don't want anybody to be able to say that somebody did it for me or somebody helped me do it. I tend to be underestimated all the time. That's usually the first thing people think, is like, you can't do that by yourself. It's like, yeah, I can do that by myself, and I'm going to try. And I'm going to do it, so. 

People actually dictating what we can and can't do, a lot of times we're not even given the opportunity to try. So, it's like, I want to claim victory. I don't want to let people tell me what I can and can't do. My target audience is anybody who can, maybe, take that flash impulse second and not take their own life. 

The military veterans, the 22 a day, or the LBGT kids who are getting bullied. If I can do anything, you know, it's great marketing value for other people, but the overall mission-- and I have a mission-- is to help people. To know that people are actually following online and that people are actually rooting for me and being behind me in that way, is-- it helps me get across. That's like my fuel. 

[SOFT ROCK MUSIC] 

[WATER SPLASHING] 

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