13-year old Winter Vinecki has been making waves in the sport of triathlon. Racing since the age of five, her competitive spirit has compelled her to be the best. By the age of nine, she found herself competing in an Olympic Distance triathlon; a distance usually reserved for seasoned adult triathletes. Winter initially had thoughts of racing as a means of bringing light to the growing epidemic of childhood obesity. This all changed one spring morning in 2008. Winter found her true cause in which to race for, founding Team Winter (501 (c) 3) to honor her dad.
In May 2008, Winter experienced personal hardship that would prove to be the defining moment in her life and career as an athlete. After a series of medical tests, her dad, Michael, was diagnosed with a rare and aggressive form of prostate cancer. The grim prognosis was met not only with sadness but with determination. Winter vowed to do everything in her power to put an end to prostate cancer and help find a cure so that other families wouldn't have to endure the personal hardships that hers were going through. Thus, Team Winter became a vessel for funding prostate cancer research and raising prostate cancer awareness on a global scale.
After the passing of her dad in 2009, she travels almost every weekend to races in which she, her three brothers and her mom, Dr. Dawn Estelle, spread the word about Team Winter and prostate cancer awareness. She runs a Team Winter booth at various expos and undertakes speaking venues at schools with “Winter’s Inspirational Talk Series”, all the while racing each race with unrivaled passion. Winter is the reigning two-time IronKids National Triathlon Champion. Each first place trophy she receives is sent to a person affected by prostate cancer as a means of support and a gesture of goodwill. While most kids cherish their trophies, she cherishes the people she gives them to.
"I founded Team Winter at age 9 after my dad was diagnosed at age 40 with a very aggressive form of Prostate Cancer. He passed away in 2009 before he even reached his 41st birthday."
At 13-years-old, for the third year in a row, she is the Ambassador for the IronKids youth triathlon series. Winter was recently recognized for inspiring and encouraging youth across America. Golf legend, Annika Sorenstam, presented Winter with the Annika Inspiration Award at Billie Jean King’s 2011 Annual Salute to Women in Sports Gala in New York City.
For Winter, it's not about the attention. It's about bringing vindication to her dad. Winter plans on running a marathon on all 7 continents, as well as the Arctic Circle, before she turns 15, to bring global awareness to prostate cancer. She has completed 5 of the 7 races. Her next continent? New Zealand!