Project Athena

Recently, I embarked on a 135 mile journey from Key Largo to Key West with one of my best friends. I truly had no idea what I was getting into. My “friend” (i use that term loosely as our friendship was in danger multiple times during the kayaking portion each day) literally pitched me on this like I was floating in a tube (beer in hand) and riding beach cruisers down to Key West. My fault for not thoroughly reading the website.

I will say this “Sometimes, you don’t really know what is good for you”. It was truly a life changing experience and one I would have never attempted without my “friend”  So, except for the 30+ miles in the Kayak (UGH!) it was actually an enjoyable way to see the Keys. For more info on the trip, check this out.

Project Athena is the brainchild of Robyn Benincasa. Robyn’s story is amazing in itself but the fact that she organizes these trips to give back is just a small indication of the kind of person I got the honor of knowing.

Here’s what I learned on this trip:

1. The World is Full of Amazing People that truly care about making a difference.

I can’t possible write enough about the group of us so i won’t try. But, trust me I’m better for knowing them and am glad to know I will keep in touch with most. Often, you hear only about things in this world that are bad. If you follow the news or social media, it’s enough to make you know there is evil in this world.

But, there is good too. ALOT of good. All you have to do is open your eyes. Here is a Ted talk from one of my new friends. Her story speaks for itself. And her story is one of many amazing stories I heard throughout the weekend.


2. Life is short so make sure you spend it with those you love doing work you can be proud of.

I got the privilege of sharing this trip with 4 cancer survivors. Many of them had spent the last year of their life wondering if getting off the couch on any given day was going to be possible. I do not (thankfully) know what having cancer is like personally. However, I do have a grandma and a mother that are both survivors. I also lost my grandfather to cancer. One thing I do know this. It’s a horrible disease. And it seems to randomly chooses people.

So, live the life you have to the fullest because you never know how long we’ve got.

3. The body will achieve what the mind conceives.

this is actually something I’ve known for awhile. Your body will rise to the occasion. Especially when it comes to athletic endeavors. You CAN run a marathon. I CAN do 30+ miles in a kayak in ocean water. Your stronger than you think. Pick a goal and tell your body who it’s boss is. HINT: It’s your mind.

4. Things are better together.

Here’s the great thing about life. We don’t have to live it alone. So surround yourself with positive people and do your part to make this world a better place.

Thank you Project Athena for the life lessons I’ll never forget. And THANK YOU to my many sponsors who made this trip possible for me and the Athenas. I can promise you that the 4 people you helped send on this adventure are better for it as are us all.

Here’s a shot of them on the final walk up the beach with Robyn when we made it to Key West.

And here’s a great article written about our trip in particular. Click here.

Crap, I forgot the main lessons i learned on the trip so I’ll leave you with this.

Beware of the kayak. It may look inviting but it is not your friend. 🙂

PS – I guess now is a good time to thank my friend. So Annie, thank you for making me do this. You can now stop communicating with me through our 3rd party interpreter 🙂

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