Press Releases

Project Athena Foundation to Help Six Female “Survivors” Who Have Suffered from Medical Hardship Experience a 120 Mile Adventure Across the Florida Keys


A non-profit foundation that encourages women who’ve endured life-altering medical setbacks to unleash their ‘inner Athlete’ and live their adventurous dreams will finish 2014 with a record setting adventure and a CNN Hero Recognition

(San Diego, CA – November 10, 2014) – – The Project Athena Foundation, a 501c3 non-profit foundation that encourages women who have endured life-altering medical setbacks to unleash the ‘Athlete and Adventurer’ within and complete the journey of lifetime, will embark on a 120 mile 3-day stage event across the Florida Keys that will include cycling, kayaking, and hiking from Key Largo to Key West. The event will be held from November 20-24, 2014 to encourage six women who faced life-threatening medical hardships to live an adventurous dream and enjoy the experience of a lifetime. Adventurers and donors who have fundraised to support these women will also tackle the 100 miles of multisport to encourage and celebrate the “Athenas.”

Beth Shaver, a 23-year old Survivor whose extreme nerve pain only allowed her to walk 100 yards without excruciating pain and nearly had her leg amputated due to a form of Complex Regional Pain Syndrome looks forward to the adventure. She comments, “Being able to take part in the Florida Keys Multisport Adventure would be the capstone to a medical journey that has finally come full circle. I truly believe life is about living each day to the fullest, especially in the hard times, and this experience has taught me to never give up hope. Completing one of these athletic feats would be the like crossing the finish line to a race that at some points, I didn’t know if I could finish.”

Laura Kauffer was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2012, which resulted in a bilateral mastectomy and reconstructive surgery using her latissimus dorsi muscles. It was an 8 ½ hour surgery that left her with a slightly frozen left shoulder and an inability to use her arms for almost three months. Now two years later with her shoulder 80% better, Kauffer explains, “I am ready to reclaim my life and I feel like I need to do something over the top to symbolize that I am still here, more here, here in a BIG way. I also want to model for my kids that we don’t all have to be great at sports to be athletic, and when life kicks you in the butt, kick it back!” Kauffer chose the Keys to Recovery Adventure because it would allow her to get back on her bike and continue her athletic journey as the “Little Engine that Could.”

Project Athena was founded by 2014 CNN Hero and local firefighter, Robyn Benincasa. Since 2009, Benincasa and her team have helped 150 women fulfill their adventurous dreams. Also a ten-time Ironman Finisher, three-time Guinness Endurance Paddling World Record Holder and World Champion Adventure Racer, Benincasa was inspired to create Project Athena as a result of her own medical setbacks of two complete hip replacements and the gratitude of being able to go on “adventures” again. Despite the setbacks, Benincasa, wanted dreams such as hiking across the Grand Canyon or trekking across the Florida Keys to become a reality through Project Athena.

Benincasa aims to give these Survivors a new perspective on life. She speaks about their mindset, “It’s not about trying to get back what you were, it’s about trying to be the best of what you’re capable of today, this minute.” When she sees the women accomplish their goal, Benincasa is invigorated. “The most gratifying thing is the moment when you see someone realize they’re going to make it, when you see the fear disappear … and they realize how awesome they are.”

To register for your own “Keys to Recovery” Adventure or simply help support current Adventurers, visit:

For more information about the Project Athena Foundation, the Keys to Recovery Adventure and upcoming 2015 Adventures, or to apply to be an Athena (Survivor) or a “God” or “Goddess,” (Supporters/Donors), please visit or contact Andrea Randle at


Project Athena is a 501c3 non-profit foundation that encourages women who’ve endured life-altering medical setbacks to unleash the Athlete and Adventurer within and complete the journey of a lifetime—whether that’s to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro, cross the finish line of an Ironman triathlon, or fall into the arms of a proud family at the end of a local 5K. Project Athena provides travel expenses, entry fees, coaching, equipment and, most importantly, the encouragement and inspiration to help strong, amazing women make that life-affirming transition from Survivor to Athlete.