Recovery on Water is a rowing team that gives survivors of breast cancer the unique opportunity to interact, become active in their recovery, and gain support from fellow survivors.


Recovery on Water empowers all patients and survivors to get fit and fight back.


Incorporated in 2008, ROW began as a collaboration between Sue Ann Glaser, a breast cancer survivor, and Jenn Gibbons, a high school rowing coach. Since 2008, ROW has not only significantly developed as a non-profit organization, but its membership has grown exponentially, serving patients and survivors from the city and suburbs of Chicago. 

The Need

Patients and survivors of breast cancer will undergo or have undergone surgery, chemotherapy, radiation, or a combination of all three in attempts to treat their disease. Such treatments may leave patients with significant complications, including lymphedema, obesity, depression, and poor quality of life. Many studies demonstrate the beneficial effects of exercise on breast cancer survivors, showing significant reduction in depressive symptoms and fatigue, and improvements in lymphedema, bone mineral density, body mass index, quality of life, and most significantly, relapse rates.

Our programs

The goal of the ROW program is to increase exercise consistency in people diagnosed with breast cancer and to improve their quality of life.

Recovery on Water provides exercise programs for patients and survivors of breast cancer 6 days a week, year round: in rowing shells on the south branch of the Chicago River during the spring, summer, and fall, and on indoor rowing machines during winter months. Our indoor rowing programs (offered year round) and offices are located inside the Bridgeport Art Center. 

Indoor and Outdoor Rowing Program for Patients & Survivors of Breast Cancer, 6 days/week:

  • Our novice program is dedicated to new and current ROW members who wish to improve their basic skills. They will have the option to compete in one or more regattas if they choose.
  • Our masters program is for veteran members who wish to focus on their general fitness through rowing and may occasionally compete in regattas or who wish to practice and compete at a more competitive level, focusing on training and racing.

Community Rowing 2 days/week:

  • ROW offers indoor rowing community programming, free and open to the public on Tuesday and Thursday nights, 5:30 pm and 6:30 pm.


Through data collected from the current ROW team, we’ve learned that ROW has significantly increased the quality of life for breast cancer survivors on the team. One hundred percent of members reported that ROW positively impacts their lives, socially, emotionally and/or physically at least once per week. Forty percent of members reported that they experience the benefits of ROW on a daily basis. 

After joining ROW, survivors of breast cancer on the team were able to increase the frequency of their exercise by about 50% (an additional 1.5 workouts per week), the intensity of their workouts by 53%, and the duration of those workouts by 34% (roughly 15 additional minutes per workout).


We believe in the power of sport. It is a valuable tool, capable of improving fitness and quality of life for patients and survivors of breast cancer.

Rowing is a low-impact sport that utilizes the whole body and is accessible to all, regardless of fitness level.

We value teamwork. While we know that a boat is made up of many individuals, we come together and row as one. We put the team first.

Through partnerships and relationships, we will create stronger, healthier communities with our boathouse partners, our Bridgeport neighbors, and the greater South Side area.

We celebrate diversity. Our team and board are ethnically and socio-economically diverse.

We believe this makes us stronger, more open minded, more empathetic and most capable of changing lives. We value all survivors, those who come to us as athletes and those who do not.

We aim for quality. We are thoughtful stewards, results-oriented and data-driven.

We are constantly evolving our impact based on the needs of those we serve.

We value commitment in all the forms it takes. Showing up and working hard is essential.

For some, commitment is attending practices regularly, for others it is fundraising or volunteerism. All are necessary and equally appreciated.

We aim to build a sustainable organization. We want ROW to serve patients and survivors for years to come.

We achieve this through the leadership of the board, creating a diverse funding pool, and establishing ongoing relationships with breast cancer treatment centers.