Project Athena: Helping women live their dreams

By Carolyn Price

Robyn Benincasa doesn’t do pity parties. As an elite adventure racer turned double-hip replacement survivor, Benincasa is one of those women who turned her negative into a positive for women.

By founding the Project Athena Foundation in 2007, she offers survivors of medical or traumatic setbacks an opportunity to set goals of living their adventurous dreams.

“I was an elite adventure racer and suddenly discovered I had no cartilage in my hips,” said Benincasa. “I had to go through two hip replacements in short order and I drew a lot of strength from my friends who have had medical setbacks.

“I used their strength and inspiration to get my groove back.”

Benincasa will bring the Project Athena race series to Marymoor Park in Redmond, Wash., Saturday, Oct. 1. The race series is a fundraiser to provide grants for survivors to cover such things are entry fees, training and airfare for adventures. All survivors race for free.

The Marymoor race offers something for everyone: a scenic 10k loop, a 5k Team Adventure Hike and a 1k Kids Merrell Fun Run. The 10k and 5k starts at 8 a.m. with a 10 a.m. kids’ start.

Participants are encouraged to create a team of two or more people for the 5k adventure hike. The two-hour scavenger hike traverses Marymoor Park and offers fun challenges along the way. All participants will receive a technical shirt, Wigwam socks and Zanfel Poison Ivy Wash plus many other goodies.

In addition to the race series, Project Athena also offers more strenuous adventure programs including a rim-to-rim-to-rim hike at the Grand Canyon (yes, that is South Rim to North Rim to South Rim over two days!) and an 8,500-foot climb to the San Jacinto Mountains in Palm Springs, Calif.

“Because of the generosity of our sponsors, Merrell, Wigman, Akali water and Amgen, 85 percent of all public donations go directly to the foundation to provide grants for the survivors,” said Benincasa.