Hailey (my 7 1/2 year old daughter) and I will be running in the Mini Marathon (2.6 miles) on the 4th of July in Monmouth, Oregon. This will be Hailey's second race. On the 4th of July many families gather for barbeques and fireworks to celebrate together. When we run this 4th of July, we want to think of our own families.
My grandpa, Lawrence J Mensink, was diagnosed with prostate cancer that already spread to his spine in 1982 when I was five years old. Grandpa miraculously lived seven years with cancer until he went to his heavenly home in January of 1989 when I was in the sixth grade. I am always grateful to the Lord that He blessed us with those seven years and that I got to know Grandpa.
On May 9, 2013 Hailey's grandpa (my dad) was diagnosed with prostate cancer. Thanks to early detection and routine exams, Hailey's Grandpa Mensink's cancer had not yet spread. We continue to pray for Dad/Grandpa as he undergoes surgery this summer.
We are choosing to run for Team Winter because it is a charity that supports the Prostate Cancer Foundation. You can read more about Winter's story below. We have had the opportunity of meeting Winter and her family.
FYI - Amy might be doing another triathlon or running race this summer/fall for Team Winter. Stay tuned.
THE TEAM WINTER STORY
An ambitious young triathlete, 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 in 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, Winter's determination has only grown. While maintaining a perfect 4.0 GPA in school, 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, all the while racing each race with unrivaled passion. 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.
Today, the growth of Winter as a triathlete and Team Winter as 501 (c) 3 non-profit organization is exponential. At 13-years-old, she is sponsored by Newton Running, holds the prestigious position as Ambassador for the IronKids youth triathlon series, and has been coached by some industry greats such as Bob Williams (Former Elite Runner and famous running coach) and Simon Lessing (Legendary Triathlete and renown triathlon coach). Many of today's professional triathletes and retired legends call her a friend, and she garners copious amounts of attention wherever she goes.
But for Winter, it's not about the attention. It's about bringing vindication to her dad, who was given a death sentence in the form of prostate cancer; a disease in which one in six men will be afflicted with. She strives every day, sacrificing playtime and other luxuries kids her age take for granted to ensure that she is doing all she can to bring an end to this tragic and all-too-common disease. Some may find it hard to fathom that a 13 year-old is capable of all of what she has accomplished, but for her, it's only the beginning.
Starting in 2012, Winter will set out to raise global awareness for prostate cancer. She will be joined by prostate cancer survivor and Newton Running co-founder, Jerry Lee. Together they will tackle marathons around the world. Their first goal is "Pole to Pole" and hitting the equator in between via the continents of Antarctica, Africa and the Arctic Circle. Be a part of this journey either by fundraising for Team Winter or just by following along and sharing her inspirational story with your friends and family. Winter will be making good on a promise that is engraved on the back of her dad's gravestone. "Cancer, I will chase you to the end of this world and stomp you out like you stomped my dad out!"