June 25, 2008

Nine-Year-Old Triathlete Spins into Action for Prostate Cancer

Winter Vinecki, a nine-year-old girl from Gaylord Michigan, learned quickly that life is unpredictable. On his 40th birthday her father, Michael Vinecki, announced to his family that he had sarcomatoid carcinoma, an especially aggressive form of prostate cancer. Shocked by this rapid change in her world, Winter's reaction as a young tiathlete was to utilize her sporting skills to raise money for prostate cancer research. This Saturday, Winter, along with her three brothers and mom, will join more than 3,000 spinners at more than 200 gyms in 30 states raising money for cancer research as they join a spinning group at Chicago's Crunch Fitness. For Winter, it is yet another unpredicted turn in her life's journey.

Winter's first goal was to participate in a triathlon on September 21st in Orlando and raise $10,000 for Athletes for a Cure, an initiative of the Prostate Cancer Foundation. She formed Team Winter--comprised of her and her older brother Yukon, 11--in honor of their dad. The team has already raised $850 in pledges. Just recently, Winter and her family were contacted by Crunch Fitness in Chicago to participate in the spinning event.

As it happens Athletes for a Cure is one of the three beneficiaries of the first national spinning fundraising event in history, Spinning Nation. When management at Crunch Fitness heard about Winter they invited her to come to Chicago with her Mom and three brothers to ride with their spinning team, if the family was up to it. Apparently they'd never met Winter Vinecki. In her mind saying "no" was not an option.

"Hearing of Winter's commitment to the cause of ending suffering and death from prostate cancer, the team at Crunch Fitness and Spinning, was compelled to invite the Vineckis to Chicago so they could be among the thousands of people they've never met but who are there for Michael and the two million American men who are facing prostate cancer," explains Scott Zagarino, founder and managing director of Athletes for a Cure.

On Fathers' Day weekend, Winter's dad Michael, who is also a triathlete, underwent twelve hours of surgery at the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota to remove an eleven centimeter tumor and to repair the havoc the cancer had created in his liver and bladder. Just two weeks after his surgery he is fighting back with all the determination of a well-trained athlete, despite complications.

Winter's mother, Dawn Vinecki, started a family blog when Michael was diagnosed. On June 14th she wrote: "Two steps forward, one step back...A new chapter now opens, one of healing. I can hardly wait until Michael is able to view the blog and the outpouring of love that has come in from across the United States."

On June 28th that outpouring will become a flood when 59 of the 60 spinning bikes at Chicago's Crunch Fitness (located at 939 West North Avenue) are filled by strangers fighting alongside the Vinecki family. The class will have one reserved but symbolically empty bike--Winter will riding next to her Dad.

Interested spinners can register for the June 28th Spinning Nation fundraiser by logging onto www.spinningnation.org. More information on the event can also be obtained by calling 541.386.5154.

According to the National Cancer Institute, nearly 28,000 men will die from prostate cancer in 2008 while 186,000 new cases are diagnosed. With the aging of the baby-boomer generation, the number of new cases diagnosed annually is projected to reach 300,000 by 2015--an increase of more than 60 percent--with an accompanying annual death rate of approximately 45,000. Early detection and treatment can result in a five-year survival rate of more than 90 percent.

About the Prostate Cancer Foundation

Prostate cancer strikes one out of every six American men. The Prostate Cancer Foundation (PCF) is the world's largest philanthropic source of support for prostate cancer research to discover better treatments and a cure for recurrent prostate cancer. PCF pursues its mission by reaching out to individuals, corporations and others to harness society's resources--financial and human--to fight this deadly disease. Founded in 1993, the PCF has raised $350 million and provided funding for more than 1,400 research projects at more than 150 institutions worldwide. The PCF has been a pioneer in the grant making process, simplifying paperwork for grantees, leaving more time for scientific investigators to conduct needed research. The PCF also advocates for greater awareness of prostate cancer and more government resources, resulting in a twenty-fold increase in government funding for prostate cancer. More information about PCF can be found at www.pcf.org.