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9-Year-Old Completes Triathlon And Helps Raise More Than $100,000 for Prostate Cancer

Posted Sep 22 2008 11:03am

Nine-year-old Winter Vinecki, a resident of Gaylord, Michigan, today honored her father’s fight against prostate cancer by competing in the inaugural Athletes for a Cure Triathlon at the Disney World Resort near Orlando, Florida. Her effort helped to raise more than $100,000 for cancer research programs sponsored by the Prostate Cancer Foundation (PCF).
As the youngest competitor and fundraiser in the race, Winter was given a ten-minute head start in front of the nearly 1,000 competing athletes. She finished the 1.5k swim/40k bike/10k run course in a time of 03:59:04 hours, coming in ahead of 62 competitors.

Winter’s mother, Dawn Vinecki, is also a triathlete and was at her side for the entire race providing encouragement. Several famed figures from the world of triathlon competition also provided support to Winter along the way. Simon Lessing, former World Champion triathlete was at her side for the swim and running segments, and former World and Ironman Champion Karen Smyers ran with Winter in the final leg of the competition.

Michellie Jones, 2000 Olympic Silver Medalist and former Ironman Champion, was unable to travel to Orlando, but reached Winter via phone to congratulate her on her accomplishment.

“It was an honor to meet Winter and participate with her,” said Simon Lessing. “This event supports an important cause and this young girl’s determination has put a whole new face on the sport and on raising awareness for prostate cancer.”
“Winter has achieved an incredibly impressive goal, especially for a 9 year-old,” commented Karen Smyers while signing autographs with Winter after the race. “She is proof that motivation and focus can result in amazing feats of selflessness.”
On his 40th birthday, Winter’s father, Michael Vinecki was diagnosed with sarcomatoid carcinoma. It is an especially aggressive form of cancer that attacked his prostate. In the six weeks between his diagnosis and a 12-hour Father’s Day surgery at the Mayo Clinic, his daughter was hard at work forming Team Winter to raise money for Athletes for a Cure and the Prostate Cancer Foundation. Michael Vinecki, a triathlete himself, was able to travel to Orlando to watch his family compete. He returns to the Mayo Clinic this week for more surgery and treatment.

Winter’s original goal was to raise $10,000 for prostate cancer research, to make people aware of the importance of early detection, and to honor her dad by fighting as hard as he has. She exceeded that original goal, raising $31,000 of the more than $100,000 raised by the event. However, Winter did more than that. For the first time ever, the entire field of competitors at the Athletes for a Cure Triathlon in Orlando competed as a single team: Team Winter. Every participant registered as a fundraiser symbolically “gave” their fundraising total to Team Winter. Their passion and their hearts finished the race for the Vinecki family and their father.

“The Vinecki’s are an incredible, loving and giving family,” commented Scott Zagarino, managing director of Athletes for a Cure. “They are some of our everday heroes, fighting for an end to prostate cancer. In spite of all they are going through, regardless of where live is taking them, they remain steadfast in their will to get the word out about prostate cancer and raise money for advanced research to find a cure. Their unstoppable spirit is an inspiration for prostate cancer patients and their families everywhere.”

Prostate cancer strikes 1 out 6 American men. According to the National Cancer Institute, more than 28,000 men will die from prostate cancer in 2008 while more than 186,000 new cases are diagnosed. With the aging of the baby-boomer generation, the number of new cases diagnosed annually is projected to reach 300,000 by 2015—an increase of more than 60 percent—with an accompanying annual death rate of approximately 45,000. Early detection and treatment can result in a five-year survival rate of more than 90 percent.
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