Monday, September 22, 2008
Reality Check - Warning you might need tissue!
This weekend my friends Missey and Rick raced in the Athletes for a Cure Triathlon at Fort Wilderness on Walt Disney World Property. Rick set a new PR by 20 minutes and Missey had a great training race. She had specific Heart Rates and zones she had to maintain and did so with flying colors! It was awesome to see my friends race and for a moment I had another pity party for myself while walking over to the race start. However it only lasted a moment.
The Athletes for a Cure Triathlon was the innaugral event to raise money for the fight against prostate cancer. Athletes from all over the world competed while raising money to fight cancer. As you all know I coach for Team in Training and have been either a participant or a coach with TNT for over 10 years. Fighting cancer is near and dear to my heart.
So at any rate, as I was standing at the starting line with my friends and feeling just a little sorry for myself, I saw this child, a nine year old named Winter Vinecki, walk up to the swim start. She was with her mom and as she walked to the start I wondered what was going on. They were in front of wave 1. Wave 1 is the wave where all of the elite and professionals athletes start. The announcer asked us all to sing the national anthem, the horn sounded and mother and daughter started to swim.
I need to interject here that it was just after 7am, the sun had barely risen and there was fog over the lake, watching them swim out into the foggy water was just mind boggling. As I watched them swim, I noticed a man with three boys standing inside the start area as well, watching these two swim off. While I tried to figure out what as going on, I saw that the man had a urostomy bag on his leg. Suddenly the lights came on. This man was somehow related to this child and he had prostate cancer. Just as the fog was lifting from my head, the announcer started to explain the story. Here is what he said.
In May of this year Michael Vinecki, husband and father of 4 was diagnosed with a very agressive form of prostate cancer. His nine year old daughter, Winter, decided she wanted to help and decided to contact the AFACTri to register. Team Winter was formed. Her goal was to raise $10,000 in for cancer research. In the end she raised $31,000. What an amazing feat! And now she was competing in a Olympic Distance Triathlon.
For everyone that is not a Tri-geek like me, the distances are a .9mile swim, followed by a 24 mile bike ride finshed up with a 6.2 mile run. It was incomprehensible to me that a 9 year old would finish the race much less even want to start. Just amazing. I saw Winter and her mother finish the swim in just over 50 minutes. Then I saw them leave on their bikes. I did not see them again until the were running to the finish line. Winter was running with a past Ironman World Champion, Karen Smeyers, past Olympic Distance World Champion, Simon Lessing and her mother.
Winter crossed the finish line in 3:59. I was crying, my daughters were crying. Everyone was screaming and cheering. In my life I have never seen anything so amazing!!! Michael and the boys were waiting just across the finish line where they were handing out medals!
Shortly after this, Winter was signing autographs with two world champion triathletes, Simon Lessing and Karen Smeyers. My daughters and I went over to meet her. What an inspiration to our family! We all have racing hats signed by this amazing child! If you would like to read more about her story, please review this article. You can also keep up with the family by reading their blog or signing the guestbook.
My daughters are ready to start training to battle cancer. They have even promised to be nicer to each other and quit fighting. Wow! We will see how long that lasts. Even if they fight with each other tonight, I know that seeing Winter and her family has made a lasting impression on me and my family.
God Bless you Winter to sharing your family's story with my family. Good luck. My prayers are with your father and your entire family as they continue on this difficult journey. Thank you for doing what you are doing to raise awareness and fight this terrible disease called Cancer.