Tag Archives: Adapted rowing

SCI Superstar: Stephany Glassing


Photo credit The Marietta Daily Journal

A former sit-n-ski water skier with several adapted water ski titles under her belt, Stephany Glassing is one of the few licensed female paraplegic pilots in the country. And that’s not all. She’s also a mother, an artist, former Ms. Wheelchair Georgia 2003 and a lover of monkeys. Yes you heard us right – monkeys.

The recipient of a Capuchin monkey (she requested one to help with depression), she’s become a huge disability service monkey advocate since receiving Tracy, speaking on behalf of the organization that gave her her monkey whenever she can.

To learn more about Stephany, an amazing woman and dedicated single mother who refuses to let her chronic pain win, read on.

Why she’s fearless

Raised by a mother who worked at NASA, Stephany dreamed of flying as a little girl. She grew up in Melbourne, Florida near NASA and was a total “Florida girl,” loving the sun and water. But like so many people when they’re a teenager, in 1984 she made a bad decision after drinking – she decided to get into the car of a friend who was drunk.

While a passenger, the car rolled and Stephany was ejected, with the car landing on top of her. She woke up a few days later in the hospital and was told she would never walk again. Stephany was grateful for the second chance at life and moved on strongly.

After her injury, Stephany went on to receive a degree in computer science from a local community college, and then she received an art degree from Arts Institute of Atlanta. She also became pregnant not too long after injury, giving birth to her daughter Briana; a young woman who went on to become Miss Atlanta in 2012 and Miss Cobb County (pictured above with Stephany). Stephany and her daughter were extremely close and remain so till this day.

In the first years after her injury, Stephany actually was not active athletically. It wasn’t until the early nineties when she discovered adapted water skiing. Growing up she loved the water, so this was a natural fit. From 1995 to 2007, Stephany was an active water skier and part of the USA Disabled Water Ski Team. In 1999, she won the title of Disabled Water Ski Champion and the USA National Ladies Sit Ski jump Champion.

Stephany eventually had to retire permanently from the water skiing in 2007 when she began experiencing chronic pain from sitting in her wheelchair for over 30 years.  And when she had a strange reaction to taking antibiotics in 2010, having a condition called Osteomyletis, which was a mass that literally melted her L4 vertebrae. Stephany had to get a rod and plate put in to help with the damage, which only increased her chronic pain.

Missing the water, Stephany is now an adapted rower, a new sport she’s fallen in love with, and she says it helps with her chronic pain immensely.

What’s next?

While doing peer support at the Shepherd Center near her home town of Marietta, Georgia, Stephany discovered Able Flight, an adapted flight nonprofit in North Carolina, that helps people with disabilities get their pilot’s license. An adrenaline junkie, Stephany knew this was for her. It took for several years because of health setbacks, but she eventually got her pilot’s license in 2012, flying a specially modified Sky Arrow S-LSA.

For Stephany, flying has been a beautiful tonic to her soul. “I love the sense of freedom flying gives me. It really gets me get out of my chair,” she likes to say. But 24 years later after her injury when her daughter moved out for college, even her love of flying couldn’t keep her spirits up.

For the first time since her injury, she became depressed. A longtime artist, Stephany thought outside-the-box to help herself, and applied for a Capuchin monkey from Helping Hands. She received Tracy, her monkey, just a few years ago, and her life had been transformed. Having Tracy has helped her in so many ways – a companion, someone to care for and of course someone who can help her too.

While Stephany’s athletic achievements have been impressive since her injury, what we’re really impressed by is her ability to thrive in the face of chronic pain, and fight depression and win in her later days. She proves we all have that fighting spirit within us, if we just know where to look for it.

Have you considered getting a Capuchin monkey?

– Learn more: Able Flight and Helping Hands

Watch the videos!

Woman with Disability Learns to Fly

Imagine a Monkey – Stephany shares how Tracy the monkey helps her

Adaptive rowing for pain management

SCI Superstar: Angela Madsen


A former Marine with one impressive athletic resume, Angela Madsen is a Paralympic rower who’s now passing on what she loves to others. Also in the Guinness World Records six times for her rowing prowess and a record holder in her other favorite adapted sport – shot-put – she’s a natural fighter.

Uncannily, rowing and shot-put weren’t sports she played pre-injury (basketball was her favorite sport), but these sports transformed her life post-injury, helping her move on and see that a fulfilled life was still possible.

Why she’s fearless

Growing up in Fairbanks, Ohio, Angela dreamed of warmer weather, moving to Long Beach, California after high school. Pre-injury, she became a mother and joined the Marines (she was assigned to police duty). While a Marine, Angela joined the Marine’s Women’s Basketball Team, a passion that allowed her to travel the world, but it also unfortunately is the cause of her injury.

Tripped during a game in 1993, two discs in Angela’s lower back slipped, causing her massive back pain. The blow of paralysis however didn’t occur however until she underwent surgery to repair discs. Surgeons accidentally removed the wrong disc, paralyzing Angela at L2.

Finding herself a paraplegic suddenly in her 30’s, her entire life began to crumble.  She was depressed, her husband (she had married) left her, the military didn’t want to pay her medical bills and to top it off, she lost her house. Finding herself homeless and even using storage at Disneyland to keep her things, Angela’s life was headed in the wrong direction….until she went to the National Veterans Games.

It was here where she discovered wheelchair-basketball, which is one of the first adapted sports she tried. This helped, but she still felt depressed about her paralysis. It wasn’t until she fell on some subway tracks in San Francisco a couple of years later (thinking she broke her neck) until she began to appreciate what she still had instead of constantly mourning when she lost.

This is the attitude that got her to try adaptive rowing, a sport that has etched her into the Guinness Book of World Records for multiple ocean crossings. In 2007, she made her first entry into the Guinness Book of World Records when she became the first woman with a disability to cross the Atlantic Ocean by rowing. She was also the first woman ever (disability or not) to cross the Indian Ocean a few years later. She went around the entirety of Great Britain as well. Long before all of this in 2000, she founded CARP (the California Adaptive Rowing Programs), which is still active today.

At the age of 47 in 2008, Angela next went to the Paralympics for rowing. While she didn’t win a medal, she missed the bronze by just a second. Angela finally won a Paralympic medal at the 2012 London Paralympic Games in shot-put actually and not rowing, throwing the put so far that she beat all previous Paralympic records.

What’s next?

Angela’s latest feat was in May 2014 when she left her hometown of Long Beach, California and rowed all the way to Honolulu, Hawaii, taking 66 days. She brought along an able-bodied friend as well to ensure she wouldn’t need to call the Coast Guard in case she got into a pickle.

Now 55 years old, Angela isn’t stopping any time soon. She loves surfing (on her knees), she’s remarried and she’s a highly coveted adapted rowing coach in addition to running both of her foundations, Row of Life, and CARP, which helps Californians with disabilities experience rowing. She also published her memoirs Rowing Against the Wind last year, which is available at Barnes & Noble.

Thank you Angela for giving back to the adapted athletics community in such a passionate way. Rowing is such an inclusive sport, as you like to say. Even upper-level quads can take part! Our community is surely better because of you.

Have you tried rowing?

– Visit Angela’s foundations: Row of Life and CARP

– Like her on Facebook: Military and Veteran Tribute Row

Watch the videos!

Pushrim “Life After Injury” podcast. Episode 24 Angela Madsen

Paralympic Athlete Angela Madsen Uses Trailer Valet To Move her Boat Onto Her Trailer (very badass)

Kerry Morgan and Angela Madsen win bronze medals – London 2012 Paralympic Games