I am so excited to write this post. In the state of Florida, 5th graders are required to write a speech and compete in an oration contest. The topic this year is "A Person Who Has Touched Many Lives." On Wednesday, Kelsie was selected as one of the 9 finalists in her school to move on to the Level 1 contest. She will present her speech on Feb 5th. I am so proud of her for many reasons.
Kelsie appears on the surface to be very outgoing and social. When she was first given the assignment, she told me that she would present a speech for her class but she even if she was chosen to move on with the contest she did not want to. I told her to focus on writing her speech and we would cross that bridge if and when we got to it.
Kelsie did not tell me at first who she had chosen to write her speech about. She said she wanted to surprise me. The night before she was to give the speech for the first time, I was finally allowed to read what she had written. I figured she had written the speech about one of her grandparents or someone she had learned about in school. I was wrong. She wrote her speech about Winter Vinecki.
If you have read my blog in the past, you will already know who Winter Vinecki is. However for those of you who are reading this for the first time, Winter is a 10 year old girl who completed the Athletes for Cure Triathlon at Walt Disney World last September. This is an Olympic distance triathon which consists of a .9 mile swim followed by a 25 mile bike ride and finished up with a 6.2 mile run. If completing the race was not amazing enough, Winter was racing in honor of her Dad who had been diagnosed with Prostate cancer a few months before. As of race morning, she had raised over $31,000 and I think as of this blog, her fundraising has crossed over the $100,000.00 mark. After completing the race, Winter and her family were gracious enough to sign autographs and this is where Kelsie met Winter.
I had written in my blog about how seeing Winter start the race and then run across the finish line changed both my life and the life of my two daughters, Kelsie and Hannah. As you all know, I race and coach for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society's Team in Training program. Kelsie and Hannah have been my biggest supporters and cheerleaders since they were born. They come to practices, help my team fundraise and provide moral support and encouragement on the race course for the participants.
The day of the AFAC triathlon Kelsie, Hannah and I cheered Winter and her mother along the race course. As they ran across the finish line into the waiting arms of their family we were all cheering and crying harder than we ever had before. After the race, I wrote in my blog how seeing Winter had impacted our lives as well as how my daughters see the world and their place in it. Both of my daughters have vowed to complete a triathlon this year as part of Team Winter and are so excited to move forward to reaching this goal. They are going to compete in the Meek and Mighty Triathlon at the St Anthony Triathlon in April of this year.
At any rate back to the speech. Kelsie wrote an amazing speech about Winter and how she had been inspired by Winter. She talked about how Winter's determination and focus spurred the same in Kelsie. I was so proud of her that night. I could not wait to hear how she did in class.
After 3 days of speeches, the kids were sent home for Christmas break and Kelsie went to her dad's house for the holiday. A few days before the kids were to return back to school for the new year, I received an email from Kelsie's homeroom teacher stating that Kelsie had been picked as one of the 6 children in her class to move on in the contest but she had told her teacher she did not want to move on. Her teacher asked me to talk to Kelsie. She said that Kelsie had written an great speech and she hoped that Kelsie would decide to continue on.
When Kelsie came back home from her Dad's house, we talked about the speech. She told me she had been thinking about it over the break and what Winter would do if she was in Kelsie's situation. Kelsie said that Winter would not be scared, and even if she was scared she would give the speech anyways. Kelsie said she had decided to ask her teacher if she could continue with the oration contest. To tell you that I am so proud of her is a moot point. To tell you I was crying that night when I went to sleep is the understatement.
Kelsie went back to school after the break and presented her speech to the entire 5th grade. On Wednesday, they announced over the school PA system the 9 finalist that had been selected to move on. KELSIE WAS ONE OF THE NINE!!
I am so proud of you Kelsie! I love you! I will be there on February 5th to hear your speech. You are a winner!
I also want to thank Winter and her family again! You are all amazing and such an inspiration to my family! Thank you for coming into our lives!
P.S. As I completed this blog, I wanted to post an update on Winter and her mom, Dawn's facebook page. When I went to Dawn's page, I saw that she had updated the blog about Winter's father, Michael. As I write this addendum to my blog, it is with a sad and heavy heart. Michael found out that he has metastasis (spread of his cancer) not only to the liver but the lungs and lymph nodes as well. He has decided to continue his fight against this horrible disease with the hope that even if the treatment does not cure his cancer, that the clinical trial he is joining will help find a cure for those that are diagnosed in the future.
On January 31st, I will start coaching a new season with Team in Training. We will be training to complete the Tri Miami Triathlon on May 3rd. While these amazing people are raising money to fight the battle against blood cancers, I know that the money they raise to fund the research will progress the fight against all cancers not just blood cancers. Every dollar counts!
Michael, you and your family will be on my mind as I help my team move forward on their journey. I will pray for you as you continue on your journey and for your family as well. My journey to the become an Ironman has taken on new meaning this year.
Thank you again!