CNN has selected San Diego firefighter, World Champion endurance athlete and Founder of Project Athena, Robyn Benincasa, as a CNN Hero. 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.

Inspired by her own medical setbacks of two complete hip replacements and the gratitude of being able to go on “adventures” again, Benincasa founded Project Athena to give women in similar situations the opportunity to make that life-affirming transition from Survivor to Athlete.

I’m honored to be chosen as a CNN Hero, but the Athenas (Survivors) who participate in our Project Athena adventures are the true heroes,” Benincasa said. “The mission of the foundation is to put Athenas in a position to inspire and amaze themselves – It’s not about getting back to what they were, it’s about being the very best of what they are today.”

 Project Athena provides travel expenses, entry fees, coaching, equipment and most important, the encouragement and inspiration of other past Athenas to help strong women celebrate their triumphs. For 2014, the Project Athena adventures include the San Francisco Marathon, a trek across the Grand Canyon, a 3-day stage event of kayaking, cycling and running or hiking from Key Largo to Key West Florida, and a climb up Mt. Jacinto, one of California’s tallest mountains.

Alongside being a World Champion Adventure racer, a ten-time Ironman finisher with two podium finishes at the Hawaii World Championships, and a 3-time Guinness Endurance Paddling World Record holder, Benincasa also shares her inspiring perspective through her World Class Teams Teambuilding Business and Leadership keynote talks.

CNN Hero is an honor awarded for making a difference in the world through extraordinary humanitarian contributions. CNN features new, or updated heroes weekly on air and online. In 2013 there were more than 50,000 nominations. The Top 10 are selected each fall and the Hero of the Year is chosen through online voting.

For more information about the Project Athena Foundation, to apply to be an Athena (Survivor) or a “God” or “Goddess,” (Supporters/Donors), please visit www.projectathena.org or contact Andrea Randle at andrea@projectathena.org.

ABOUT PROJECT ATHENA

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. www.projectathena.org