Part 3 of Jessica's interview with Robyn Benincasa- creator and founder of Project Athena
Jessica: Why the name Athena?
Robyn: I did some research on names that would hopefully match what we wanted to do, and I looked up Athena and she is the goddess of wisdom and war. So it was kind of fitting because we said in the beginning- well through war comes wisdom. And every one has been through a war. And hence we’re in that place where we’ve gotten a lot more wisdom from the war. And that’s what we want to share.
Jessica: Why is sports your answer to recovery?
Robyn: There’s something really life altering in a positive way about having a little bit of a struggle- a little bit to overcome. And while people have overcome things, obviously all of these women have overcome physical things that have set them back, this is something that is more for their spirit than anything. And I mean there are a lot of things that can help you recover. You know-music and hobbies and all that kind of good stuff. But I think that everyone who is on this team that’s kind of producing Project Athena- we’ve all gotten so much of who we are and what we need in life to be positive about ourselves through sports. Through athletics. And it’s, you know, something that we’ve been doing since we were kids. And that’s what we wanted to bring to women. There’s something neat about being a little bit afraid of something, and wondering whether or not you can do it, and then making it happen. And your confidence level soars. When you’ve been looking at something for a long long time- you know like ‘oh man before I had breast cancer I always figured I’d do a marathon someday, and then after breast cancer I know it’s not even going to be possible’ and we’re saying ‘yes it is’! And it may be a 6 hour marathon, It may be a 7 hour marathon but it IS doable. And you can do it. And we’re going to be with you every step of the way. And to see the light in their eye and the lightness of sprit, and the way that they latch onto it so much after their event. I mean we’ve had at least half of our Athenas want to come back and do whatever the next thing is even if they do it as a fundraiser. It’s just they now believe and they now understand that we’re not trying to make them into a 3 hour marathoner. It’s just about being out there with your girls. And sports just happens to be the method.
Jessica: What is your ultimate dream for Project Athena?
Robyn: I’d like to see us have mentors- it’s starting to happen now- where we have mentors all across the country- all across the world. You know we have other women who are writing to us now and saying, ‘There’s nothing wrong with me, but I’m a coach. Or I’m a physical therapist. Or whatever it is – and saying I want to help. So my dream is to have people in every city who are coaches and mentors for Project Athena. And that we have local chapters all over the place of women helping other women.
So much of the time people don’t know where or how to reach out. Or they think that a training group is so far beyond their capability. And they just need to have someone that is like, ‘You know what? We’re not here to run a 50 miler, we’re gonna walk a 5k. And that’s what we’re gonna do.’ And I think so many women are afraid that they’re so far down the totem pole physically that they can’t even get started, and that’s what we want to change…
So much of recovery is at a cellular level. You know are you happy? Do you have a positive spirit? Do you believe in yourself? And that’s where we’re trying to put people’s minds , and the athletic part is just a means to an end.
Jessica: How can the average person help Project Athena?
Robyn: A couple of things. Obviously we always need donations. It’s a 501C3 non profit, Project Athena Foundation. We also need mentors in different communities. We have many many but if you have a special talent or are willing to help coach,you know, maybe a local Athena .. in your area- we’d love to hear from you .
And also we’ve developed these fundraising adventures ….
Jessica: Thank you so much Robyn- you really rock!
Robyn: I am so lucky and blessed to have what we have with the team and with the Project Athena foundation,
For more information or to learn how to sponsor a woman, please visit ProjectAthena.org