Thursday, March 12, 2009

Honoring Dr. Michael Vinecki and Advancing the Cause of Team Winter


Today we learned the sad news of the passing of Michael Vinecki, age 41, of Gaylord, Michigan. Michael was diagnosed with prostate cancer on his 40th birthday.

Michael came to my attention through his daughter, Winter, after, at the age of 9, she completed an Olympic distance triathlon as a part of TeamWinter.org She formed Team Winter to raise awareness of prostate cancer and money for the Athletes For a Cure Foundation. A non-profit organization raising money to find a cure for prostate cancer. To date, her efforts have brought in over $100,000.

Earlier this year I had the opportunity to interview Winter on the “Stay Tuned Report” podcast released on February 6th. Although we didn't meet in person it was clear, from the very moment she came to the phone, that I was talking to no ordinary 10 year old.

During earlier meetings with her mother and with Scott Zagarino, the president of Athletes for a Cure I was informed that Michael's cancer was in an advanced stage and his passing would come soon. Although I understood the situation I have to admit I was in denial of just how soon, soon was to be.

Michael passed away at with the entire family snuggled in bed with him.

Michael's family has two requests. First is for you to go to AthletesForACure.ning.com and leave a message in the guest book.

The second request is, to show your support for the 2 million other American families fighting the same battle by wearing your Team Winter Edition Oakley Sunglasses at races this year. You can order yours at the “Shop at the Athletes for a Cure Store” link on the AthletesForACure.orgweb site. Proceeds from every pair of sunglasses goes to the fight against prostate cancer.

Although I never met Michael or had the privilege of speaking to him I feel a deep personal loss at his passing this is a result of getting to know a little bit about his wife, daughter, and three sons. I am sending this message to mourn the loss of Michael and share in the grief of his family's loss and perhaps in that sharing, to find the strength to bear that sorrow and courage to sew the seeds of hope of a day when no more lives are lost to cancer.

What we say today is only an inadequate expression of what we carry in our hearts. Words pale in the shadow of grief; they seem insufficient even to measure the bravery Michael shown in his last days he was with us. His true testimony will not be in the words we speak, but in the way his family is living their lives in the fight against this scourge of a disease and in the way he fought to the end with dignity and purpose and yielding to the struggle surrounded by his family and bathed in serenity.

Yet his wife, Dr. Dawn Estelle, his son's Yukon (11), Magnum (8) and Ruger (6) and especially his daughter, Winter may release their grief but are not about to yield in the fight against cancers. No, from the example set by Team Winter we are all shown a light on a pathway to a world free of these life robbing diseases.

Won't you join me and them in this noble effort and leave a message of encouragement or shared sorrow at AthletesForACure.ning.com? Won't you strap on your goggles, mount your bike, lace your shoes and take up the battle station in a fight that affects us all?

Godspeed Michael and here's wishing strength and friendship to Dawn, Yukon, Magnum, Ruger, and Winter and those that love him.


8 comments:

Andrew said...

I'm in Scotland and I only learned about the Vinecki family, Michael's condition, and Winter's amazing reaction today. Everytime I watch footage of Winter and Michael it brings a lump to my throat. What an exceptionally brave family. Heartfelt condolences to you all, Godspeed Michael.

Coachhrd said...

A sad story, but thanks for sharing.

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