Fourteen-year-old Winter Vinecki, who has already raised more than $400,000 for prostate cancer research, is at it again.
During the month of September, which is Prostate Cancer Awareness Month, Vinecki will partner with Athlete.com to host a month-long "Runraiser," with the proceeds benefiting the Prostate Cancer Foundation.
Athlete.com, a "social platform for running," was founded two years ago by Zach Stout, a San Francisco resident, and is led by Drew Izzo, a Parkite who serves as the website's CEO.
The site will host Vinecki's event, Team Winter S1X, part of her Team Winter charity. The S1X event represents the one in six men who will get prostate cancer in their lifetimes, a rate Vinecki wants to lower. Izzo, who also hosts Vinecki when she's in town training for marathons, said Athlete.com is the perfect way to inspire people across the globe to get active to support a good cause. He's excited to see how people respond to the website and the event itself.
"To be completely honest, this is the first sort of significant effort we've put towards an event with this sort of decent-sized partner (the Prostate Cancer Foundation)," he said. "So I really don't have any idea what the results will be. But what I do know is we're learning a lot as a business about how these events will work. And we're going to raise a bunch of money I'm not exactly sure how much right now, but it all helps.
Izzo said he's glad Athlete.com is able to support Vinecki and her cause.
"When she was nine years old, she lost her dad to prostate cancer," he said. "Rather than be sad, she decided to try to make a difference and she has gone on to race in memory of her dad and has raised more than $400,000 to fight prostate cancer."
Vinecki is trying to become the youngest runner to complete marathons on all seven continents. She's completed marathons in Antarctica, Asia, Africa, North America and South America so far, and will run one in New Zealand in October and will complete her journey by running the original marathon trail in Greece in November.
But for the month of September, she'll be training. And for every mile she runs, she'll raise money for prostate cancer research.
Athlete.com allows people to sponsor runners. Runners then use a smart phone app to track their runs, which are then uploaded to the Athlete.com website. Runners can also sign up to join Vinecki and recruit their own sponsors.
"You sign up and commit to run a certain amount of miles during the month," Izzo said. "Then people can come and sponsor those miles for a dollar, a quarter, a dime, whatever."
Izzo isn't sure how many people will participate, but he said the current number of people signed up is around 70 and growing every day. He also said the benefits of people being able to participate in an event without gathering in a central location will help raise more money.
"There are 1.6 million charities in the U.S. right now," he said. "And the top 30 raised $1.68 billion via activity-based charity events last year. About half of that money goes to running the event renting toilets, trussing, fencing, timing partners, getting permits and licensing, etc. Plus there's the physical limitation that people have to travel there to participate in that event on that day. We've created a platform that allows people to create events and people can participate from anywhere. You can get Aunt Zoey in Australia to sponsor your miles here in Utah."
He added that Team Winter will be able to give more money to the Prostate Cancer Foundation because of Athlete.com, which has next-to-no operating costs. The site operates with an eight-person team two based in Argentina, two in Costa Rica, two in Salt Lake City and two in Park City. Additionally, Izzo said, because Athlete.com is a technology-driven business, there are no shipping costs or production costs.
"Fifty cents on the dollar goes to running in-person events," he said. "With Athlete.com, up to 92 percent of the funds raised go directly to the charity. So it's a much more efficient way to raise money."
Plus, he said, there are plenty of cool prizes for people who pledge to run with Team Winter.
"You register for $45 and you get over $200 in free stuff," Izzo said. "It's a killer deal. And every $10 you raise enters you into a drawing to win some of these prizes Nathan running vests, Newton running shoes, all sorts of things."
To register to run with Team Winter S1X, go to athlete.com/events/10/teamwinter-s1x-one-in-six.