Park City athlete Winter Vinecki helps students ‘grit it out’
For most of her life, Winter Vinecki has been helping others.
Vinecki, a 17-year-old Park City resident, first earned widespread recognition when she became the youngest person ever to finish a marathon on all seven continents. But far more important than that, she would say, is this: She has helped raise nearly $500,000 for cancer research through a non-profit called Team Winter she formed after her father died of prostate cancer when she was 9 years old.
She is no stranger to using her position as a world-class athlete to inspire others to do good. That’s why she did not hesitate when Boosterthon, a company that helps more than 1,900 elementary schools raise money, came calling.
Boosterthon organizes nine-day “fun run” fundraiser and fitness programs at schools, encouraging students to show leadership and to do all they can to help their schools. Vinecki will be featured in videos shown in each school delivering an important message: You can “grit it out.”
She said she hopes her message of perseverance, which will be seen by roughly 1.3 million children, proves motivating.
“It’s such an important life lesson,” Vinecki said. “No one said chasing your dreams is going to be easy. There are always going to be points where it’s going to be challenging. You may want to give up. You may think, ‘Is it even worth it?’ It’s at those points where you need to grit it out and stick with it and never give up.”
“Grit it out” is a theme that has defined Vinecki’s life. She has applied that attitude to running marathons, to training for the 2018 Winter Olympics, where she hopes to compete in aerial skiing, and most importantly to starting the cancer foundation after her father died. She said her life has been full of trying times, but she has never quit. It was that personal experience that made her feel strongly about participating in the Boosterthon videos.
“After my father’s death, I had to turn the tragedy into something positive,” she said. “Even though I lost my dad, I gritted it out. I could have given up and said ‘I don’t know why I’m trying.’ But I wanted to grit it out so other families don’t have to go what mine has had to go through.”
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A district spokesperson said six students were removed from an area in the school as police conducted a search.