Amazing Kids! Magazine

Amazing Kid! Interview with Winter Vinecki

By Victoria Feng, Assistant Editor and AKOM Editor

 

Winter Vinecki is the founder of Team Winter, an organization that raises money for prostate cancer research. Team Winter has raised around $400,000 and is still an active part in the fight against prostate cancer. She is also an avid skier and is on the U.S. Ski Team. Some of her other accomplishments include being the youngest person to run a marathon on all seven continents. Read on to find out more about Winter and her organization.

Amazing Kids (AK): What inspired you to start the organization Team Winter?

Winter Vinecki (WV): I originally wanted to form Team Winter for childhood obesity. While competing at races across the U.S., I would see kids who were part of a team with matching gear and all. Coming from a small town, there was no team for me to join. I wanted to make Team Winter so that kids across the U.S. could be a part of a team despite living in different locations. At the same time, I wanted it to be for a cause so that we were racing for something bigger than ourselves. My mom and I were ready to form Team Winter when my dad was diagnosed with a rare and aggressive form of prostate cancer. At nine years old, I immediately decided to switch the focus of Team Winter to prostate cancer awareness to help the one in six men like my dad who are affected by the disease.

AK: How does Team Winter help those with or those who may be affected by prostate cancer?

WV: Team Winter raises money in many different ways. Team Winter “athletes” raise money individually for the foundation, some people put on events such as golf outings and running races with proceeds going to Team Winter, and money is raised through the Team Winter online store. Every dollar Team Winter raises goes directly towards prostate cancer research and awareness. To date, I have helped raise close to a half million dollars for the disease. The money raised by Team Winter has funded one of the Prostate Cancer Foundation’s young researchers. Just recently, this researcher has developed a new nanotechnology to treat metastatic prostate cancer, like the kind my dad had. I have also donated many of my first-place trophies to men and families who are affected by prostate cancer so that they know someone is out there fighting for them.

AK: What was the most challenging part of your journey to become a part of the U.S. Ski Team? 

WV: The most challenging part was the amount of sacrifices I had to make. In order to pursue aerial skiing, I had to move away from home at just 12 years old. This meant sacrificing being with my family most of all. I only saw my family during my off weeks, which would sometimes be months apart in the winter. I also couldn’t go to a normal high school like most teenagers and spent most days training rather than hanging out with friends.

AK: How did you feel when you learned you were named a recipient of the Annika Inspiration Award?

WV: To be honest, I don’t remember finding out that I had won the award as much as I do being at the Women’s Sports Foundation event in New York City to receive the award. At the event, I was surrounded by some of the most amazing women in sports like Venus Williams, Laila Ali, and Diana Nyad. This event is also where I met Emily Cook, who introduced me to the sport of aerial skiing. Speaking in front of all of these women and talking to them after were definitely unforgettable experiences.

AK: Can you describe your experience in racing marathons and becoming the youngest person to race on all the continents?

WV: For me, I was just out there doing what I love, running in honor of my dad. The hardest part about doing the marathons was actually just getting to the starting line. Hundreds of race directors told me that I was too young to run a marathon, so they would not let me compete in their races. Finally, when we found seven race directors on seven continents who let me run their marathons, it made each race that much more special. I not only got to see the far ends of the world, but I also got to do it with my mom, making it even more unforgettable. Since my mom ran every marathon with me, we became the first mother and daughter to run a marathon on all seven continents.

AK: Do you have any goals for the future?

WV: My biggest goal right now is to make it to the 2018 Winter Olympics.

AK: Do you have any advice for our readers? 

WV: My biggest advice is to dream big and never let your age, gender, or race be a barrier.

AK: Is there anything else you would like to add?

WV: Check out my website at wintervinecki.com to follow my journey.

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