Winter Vinecki, 15, was awarded the Gloria Barron Prize for Young Heroes, an award that recognizes young leaders ages 8 to 18 who have made a positive difference to people or the environment. Vinecki, along with 14 other top award recipients, received $5,000 to support her service work or further education.
Vinecki completed her first triathlon at age 5 and has since completed multiple sprint and Olympic-distance triathlons, and she holds the world record for the youngest person to complete a marathon on each continent—which she completed before turning 15. After losing her father to prostate cancer in 2009, Vinecki formed Team Winter, a charity raising funds and awareness for a cure for prostate cancer.
Vinecki currently lives in Park City, Utah, where she is pursuing her other passion: aerial skiing. “My main focus right now is to try and make the 2018 Olympics in aerial skiing,” she said. “The last race my dad saw me compete in was an Olympic-distance triathlon… I had proven to everyone that I was capable of much more than they thought. After my dad passed away I was looking for something bigger and better to do. I really wanted to take prostate cancer [awareness] to a global level.”
Last year another young triathlete, Ariana Luterman, was awarded the Barron Prize. Luterman raced her first triathlon when she was 7 years old and has raised more than $70,000 for the Vogel Alcove, a Dallas-based childhood education program for homeless children, through Team Ariana, her triathlon racing team.
“I was usually one of the only kids in those distances [sprint-and Olympic-distance triathlons], so I was getting a lot of attention… I wondered if I could turn that attention away from me to a more worthwhile cause,” she said.
Luterman combined her passion for triathlon with her philanthropic mission. “This is what I love doing,” she said. “I come home everyday and go train and come back with a smile on my face, and I do it for these kids. I have a voice that needs to be heard. I have a cause to race for now.”
For more information on the Gloria Barron Prize for Young Heroes, visit Barronprize.org.