May 21 2018
How running after losing my leg has helped me find my identity and purpose.
Winter Vinecki may seem like the average 14-year-old girl on the outside, but her record-breaking determination sets her far apart from the average teenager.
At the age 40, Michael Vinecki was diagnosed with an aggressive form of prostate cancer. Less than 10 months later, the disease ripped him away from his family leaving his daughter, Winter, and his three sons reeling from the loss of their father. Determined to fight back, the Vinecki clan formed Team Winter under the premise that no son or daughter should have to go through the same pain of losing a dad to prostate cancer. With mom, Dawn, at the helm, the family bonded together to raise money and awareness for prostate cancer while competing in triathlon and running events around the United States.
In the beginning, the Vineckis traveled from race-to-race in an RV working back-to-back events. Race participants could visit the Team Winter booth, set-up and run exclusively by the family. Passer-bys couldn’t help but glean inspiration from the young blonde-haired children who desperately missed the father they adored.
Three years later and nearly $1 Million dollars raised for the Prostate Cancer Foundation, Winter set her sights on something even bigger. As a runner at heart, she decided marathons would be her goal. But in true Team Winter form, running a marathon wasn’t going to be enough. She wanted more. She wanted bigger. All in the name of her dad.
So in April 2012, Winter and her mother, Dawn, started their journey to break the world record for the first mother-daughter team to run a marathon on all seven continents. Not only would they shoot for that record, but in achieving the feat Winter would also become the youngest runner to attain the accomplishment.
Marathon number one took place in Eugene, OR where Winter scored her fastest finish time of 3 hours 45 minutes. From there, she traveled high and low (completing five more marathons along the way) before ending her journey this past weekend in the birthplace of the marathon – Athens, Greece. With a time of 4:03:53, Winter crossed the final finish line as a record holder.
With a mission to “stomp out cancer,” Winter is well on her way to shedding light on the disease that affects 1 in 6 men. And while scoring a new world record is pretty impressive, she’s not about to stop there. In addition to running, Winter has a knack for aerial skiing. As an Olympic hopeful, she lives and trains in Park City, Utah where she hopes to qualify for the 2018 Winter Games.
Take note America, we predict this won’t be the last time the world gets to know Winter Vinecki – whether running or skiing – this girl’s destined for big things to come!
To learn more about Team Winter or for information on prostate cancer, visit teamwinter.org.