Friday, March 20, 2009

Michael Lee Vinecki - May 3, 1968 to March 12, 2009

Michael Lee Vinecki, age 40, died peacefully on March 12, 2009, surrounded by his family in their Gaylord home. He fought a courageous 10-month battle against a rare and aggressive form of prostate cancer. Michael was born May 3, 1968, in Petoskey, Michigan, the son of Virgil and Theresa (Slivinski) Vinecki. He is survived by his wife, Dr. Dawn Estelle, daughter, Winter, age 10, and sons, Yukon, age 11, Magnum, age 8, and Ruger, age 6. Also surviving are his parents, sister, Brenda (Daniel) Kwapis of Johannesburg MI, and brother Rick (Alicia) of Traverse City MI. Many aunts, uncles, nieces and nephews will miss Michael, as well.

Michael was a 1986 graduate of Gaylord High School. He was a musician and spent his teen and early twenties playing polkas across the country with his brother Rick. It all began at an early age while playing drums with his dad and brother in a 3 piece local band. Michael played with the grammy-winning group, Eddie Blazonczyk’s Versatones, in 1990 and toured the United States and Europe while still a young man. He performed with numerous other groups because of his ability and amazing talents. While living in the Chicago area in the late 1990-s, Michael formed a country band called “Michael Lee and the Dusters” and played in the northern Illinois area.

Auctioneering was Michael’s second love and he was an integral part of Vinecki Auction Services with his family. His brilliant smile and smooth style will be missed. Michael was an active member of the Michigan State Auctioneers Association and National Auctioneers Association. His most recent accomplishment was obtaining his Brokers License in Real Estate.

Following Michael’s diagnosis in May 2008, the entire family became involved with the Athletes For a Cure, a branch of the Prostate Cancer Foundation. “Team Winter” was founded by his daughter, Winter, to actively raise awareness and funds for prostate cancer. People are currently swimming, biking and running across the country in honor of Michael and in support of Team Winter. The family and friends will continue this effort on Michael’s behalf. The Inaugural Team Winter 5K Challenge will be held June 6, 2009 in Grand Rapids, MI in memory of Michael. For more details, visit

Friends and family who wish to honor Michael’s memory may contribute to the Vinecki Children’s College Fund through Nelson’s Funeral Home or donate to prostate cancer research through the Team Winter website.

Visitation for Michael will be at the Vinecki home at 514 Camp Ten Road, Gaylord, on Wednesday, March 18, from 3 P.M. until 8:00 P.M. A visitation will also be held Thursday, March 19, at St. Mary Cathedral in Gaylord starting at 2 P.M. with funeral services beginning at 4 P.M. There will be a private burial.

You may continue to follow “Michael’s Journey” at

Friday, March 13, 2009

Funeral Arrangements for Michael

Visitation:  Michael will be shown at his home on Wednesday March 18, 2009 
                      Address:  514 Camp Ten Road 
                                        Gaylord,  MI
                      Time:  3pm-8pm

Visitation will also preceed the Funeral Service at Gaylord St. Mary Cathedral 
                       Date:  Thursday, March 19, 2009
                       Time:  2pm-4pm

Funeral Service at Gaylord St. Mary Cathedral
                       Date:  Thursday, March 19, 2009
                       Time:  4pm

In lieu of Flowers, a college fund has been established for the Vinecki children through Nelson's Funeral Home 135 N.  Center Street Gaylord, MI 49735 (888)732-1770.  Please contact the Funeral Home for any further details.

Michael Has Gone

At 8:55am on Thursday morning, our Michael left us after he'd fought back with everything he had against his cancer. We all spent the wee hours snuggled up in bed with him and all of us know with no uncertainty that his last breath came with the knowledge that he was loved, and would be loved forever by Yukon, Winter, Magnum, Ruger and I. Dying is not an easy thing for the one leaving or the ones who stay, but if it had to be this way then Michael went in the absolute best way he could. Without pain and surrounded by love.

I don't think anyone ever knows what to do next. Thank God we're surrounded by people willing to pitch in and help us through this spot. With a lot of help we've decided to have two services, one on Wednesday and another celebration on Thursday. I'll post details later, but both will be at the house and the spirit here is that we intend to celebrate the life Michael lead among the people who loved him. There will be time to grieve, and a time to answer the big questions, but next week we're going to look back, not forward with gratitude for the time we had.

The kids are all remarkable. Just when I think they might not have grasped the reality, they'll ask a question or look off in ways that let me know that they feel this each in their own way. Ruger peppered me with questions as he fell asleep last night that reminded me that we are experiencing all of this according to our years and our experience. It helps when I have to really think about the answers.

There are a million questions right now and we're all pretty secure in the answers we have and the ones we don't. Yukon is slaving away at the computer making sure everyone we love is in the loop, Winter is getting ready to use her racing season to honor Michael through Team Winter, Magnum is the quiet one who seems to know more than the rest of us about how to do this, and Ruger is...well, Ruger. His heart is right there on his sleeve.

As for me? The the list of the things I'm sure of seems very short compared to the list of things I have no idea about, so I'm focusing on one thing at a time. Thousands of people who've been touched by Michael are writing and leaving us notes at the website Athletes for a Cure set up for us. It helps us all when we read such kind words from so many people and it helps that they're all in one place. That's all for right now, if you want to send a note please post it on Michael's page at: . You can also read what everyone else has written. There are a lof of stories from people who've been where we are.

More soon, but for now know that we all feel truly loved at the time we need to be loved the most. Thank you all.


Thursday, March 5, 2009

Hometown Hero

Watch TV 7&4 tonight, Thursday March 5th, 2009 at 6 pm.  Winter is being featured as the hometown hero.  We will update the blog this weekend.

Dawn, Michael and Kids