12-year-old triathlete inspired by late father

12-year-old triathlete inspired by late father

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by Michael Berk

kgw.com

Posted on December 20, 2011 at 2:40 PM

Updated Thursday, Apr 26 at 11:55 AM

SALEM -- A 12-year-old girl from Salem is on a very personal mission to make a difference by raising more than a quarter of a million dollars for cancer research.

This week, KGW Sports got a chance to meet with Winter Vinecki and learn more about her incredible achievements.

Her mission began when she was only 9-years-old. She’s already shattered all of her fundraising goals. But unfortunately, her’s is a race which has no visible finish line.

“Well, my dad died there,” says Vinecki when talking about her dream house in Northern Michigan. “We had the showing for his funeral there. He built the entire house, painted it, hand picked rocks for the 40-foot fireplace. It’s just not meant to sell.”

When the 12-year-old's family moved to Oregon looking for a fresh start, she had an idea.

“We’re gonna make it into a place where people with prostate cancer and their families could come and relax and have a great time,” says Vinecki.

But the home in Michigan only begins to tell the story. Michael Vinecki died in 2009 following a 10-month battle with an aggressive form of prostate cancer. His daughter, already a world-class triathlete, is waging an aggressive fight to find a cure.

“I said I want to do something to help my dad,” said Vinecki. “So I formed Team Winter. We have a nationwide team and we’ll raise money for prostate cancer.”

Team Winter has raised $300,000 since 2009. Her team generates sponsor dollar by participating in running, swimming and cycling events all over the country. Then there’s the line of athletic apparel on her website. A Team Winter bike is in the works. 100 percent of the proceeds go to prostate cancer research. This type of philanthropy has been Winter’s calling since she was 8-years-old.

“At that point she was trying to raise money for childhood obesity,” says Vinecki’s mother, Dawn Estelle.

Winter’s focus has shifted, but the goal remains the same. All thanks to a girl named Winter, and a mission that’s for all seasons. All for a father who’s never too far away.

“I remember every time I cross that finish line. He’s watching over me,” says Vinecki.

Winter is already the national record holder in the under 12 half marathon. She plans to run one marathon on all seven continents beginning with Antarctica in November.

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