Miami Valley native, Paralympic medalist dies attempting solo ocean row

The Fairborn City Schools community is celebrating the life of a Paralympic medalist who died on a solo rowing trip across the Pacific Ocean.

Angela Madsen was 60 days and 1,300 miles into her journey from Los Angeles to Honolulu on her watercraft, the Row of Life, her wife, Debra confirmed Tuesday in a Facebook post.

Madsen, 60, is a member of the Fairborn Baker High School Class of 1978, where she played volleyball, the district posted on its Facebook page.

“A common thread of passion and drive runs through her story. We see this tenacity in many of our graduates, overcoming adversity, living life to the fullest, and reaching out to others to make a difference,” the post read. “We honor a life well-lived, and she will certainly serve as an inspiration to all of us.”

Madsen entered the water to make repairs to her boat but as of Sunday was no longer responding to text messages, her wife said. A cargo ship discovered Madsen in the water, deceased, about halfway into her journey.

Described as a world-class rower who twice crossed the Atlantic Ocean, she competed in the Paralympic Beijing Games 2008 in rowing; shot put in the 2012 London Games, where she earned a bronze medal; and competed in shot put and javelin in Rio de Janeiro in 2016, according to Team USA.

Madsen was a Marine Corps veteran who became a paraplegic in 1993 during a back surgery following a basketball injury. She lost her job and experienced homelessness in the 1990s, Team USA reported. She began rowing in 1998 and founded the California Adaptive Rowing Program based in Long Beach, Calif.

Wine Country Marines are sponsoring a GoFundMe online fundraiser to help bring Madsen's remains back to California.

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