Sunday, May 31, 2009


Well......Here it is....our new home, at least this will be the picture for a year or two. We are renting this home until we decide over the next several years what high school the kids want to attend. Right now we are in an ideal location. Three miles from my job, .9 miles from the elementary school and 4 miles from the middle school. We are in a very quite culdesac with only 10 houses, all of which are either current or retired school teachers. We are 2 miles from Starbucks, Lowes, Walmart SuperCenter, Great Harvest Bread Co., SPa, Gym, Natural Food Store, you name it we have it. One huge advantage of being on the outskirts of a town of 150,000....Salem OR. For those who have been asking our mailing address is 5056 Riley CT SE, Salem OR 97306-8811.

How did the move go........Well, for those who followed on Facebook, you know what a 4500 mile adventure we had going about 3/4 the way around the US. We set the world record in longest tow for mom and 4 kids. We were towed 450 miles out of the Western Texas Dessert until we finally got to El Paso, TX. Small house to turbo system blew a hole...took 30 minutes to fix. Otherwise, kids saw some amazing things as shown on facebook pictures or for those even more savvy, they followed us on twitter. Winter took first in St Anthony's Triathlon in Florida and Second in Ironkids San Diego-which qualified her for the National Ironkids event this fall in Arizona. Winter is not a fan of salt water as she learned after swallowing a few gallons in San Diego-Mission Bay during the swim portion of the race. The kids favorite place was the Redwoods of Northern California. We spent May 3, Michael's Birthday- would of been 41, camping in the massive trees and celebrated Michaels birthday. It is a very magical place feeling like little ants in a grove of Redwoods. The kids definitely want to go back and spend more time there exploring. We arrived safe and sound in Salem right on schedule.

How are the kids.......They love it here and have melted right into the school systems. They are actually ahead in most areas compared to Oregon kids which made things very easy. Winter and her two younger brothers go to Lee elementary school. They have to ride their bikes to school every day. Winter has been a great leader in showing Mag the routine so he and Ruger can do it next year on their own as Winter will be joining Yukon at Judson Middle School. I think the first week the kids were in school it rained everyday! The kids would get to school with soaked butts and were beginning to think "we have to do this everyday". But then the rainy season ended and we literally haven't seen rain in weeks. Ruger and Mag are in a shared 1st/2nd grade class which is awesome. They have a wonderful, great teacher and are excelling. Winter passed all of the standardized 5th grade testing on the first try and is way ahead, especially in math. She is looking forward to all the great things that come this fall in 6th grade, especially being on the schools cross country team. Winter loves being able to see the snow peaked mountains from the elementary school, letting her know that skiing is always just a few hours away year round!
Yukon has tackled a major adjustment.... new kid, moving into middle school with 900 kids at the end of the school year. Many new things to adjust to and he has done an amazing job! He is making friends, enjoying woodshop and making mom neat things for the house. He rides a bus everyday for only about 10 minutes. He loves the vast choices for classes including 6 computer classes to choose from next year. Yukon turned 12 this week and is enjoying his birthday present. He got an i-touch and the sdk software and is now writing apps for i-phone. He is my genius in the family. They have adapted so well, it is truly amazing. It goes to show how flexible kids really are and how they just take things in stride and don't sweat the small stuff.

My new Job.....For the first time in 8 years I am going on my third month of not carrying a cell phone or pager. FREEDOM!! I will finally start call in July but will only be taking 4-5 days of call a month (one weekend every two months). I am loving life and being a mom again. Kaiser is an amazing organization to work for. No wonder the Obama administration is looking at modeling the National Health Care System after Kaiser Permanente. We are 100% Electronic Medical Records which is great for documentation and accessing patient information. My colleges, 4 other male physicians, are great people. My staff takes amazing care of me and are helping me fit right in. I have every Friday off, so I only work 4 days a week. It is great to be a part of such a large organization, there is a lot of networking and support in all directions. I am blessed to have found this opportunity to do what a love but yet still maintain quality of life.

Team Winter........marches on. Great success in all directions. Winter was just in the Wall Street Journal last week. I will be posting the article soon if you didn't get a chance to see it. Winter won the Grand Prize in the Eddie Essay contest that was held At Boyne Falls Schools just as she was leaving. The essay had to describe your favorite charity and why they should receive money from the Kiawanis. She won the overall Grand Prize out of 3 schools. The award was originally $100, but they doubled it to $200 because they were so impressed with TEam Winter and what it is doing to change the face of prostate cancer awareness. I will post the award winning essay soon also. Team Winter will be attending the National Auctioneers Associate-Annual Convention in Kansas City this summer in honor of Michael. The Auctioneer community has really went above and beyond in helping Michael's children and Team Winter. There are many more good things on the horizon as Team Winter continues to grow. We are currently supporting several families right now who are dealing with prostate cancer in their 40's.

Team Winter Race in Honor of Michael....Many of you know we were trying to work out a race in Grand Rapids to honor Michael. After many snags in trying to put together such a large event in a short period of time, we have had to make some changes for this year. The race will not be an exclusive Team Winter Race, instead we will be coming out and showing our support for Team Winter and honor Michael at a race that is already in existence. We will be attending a race in Charlevoix, MI on Saturday, July 25th. The race has a 1 mile, 5k and 10k. We don't care if you can't run 3.1 miles, you can at least walk it in honor of Michael. He walked way more than that distance with his body riddled with Cancer. There is special significance wtih this race. Ryan Shay, a former top American Marathoner, was born in northern michigan and went on to be one of the top runners in American. He died suddenly last year during the Olympic Marathon trials in NYC. They know hold a race to honor him called the Shay Mile. The same day we race in Charlevoix, they will bring in elite milers to race for prize money in honor of Ryan Shay. Please check out the website and put this day on your calender. If you don't have your Team Winter T-shirt or Team Winter Oakleys, email me at and I will let you know how to get them for the race. It was amazing to see almost 200 people at the St. Anthony's Triathlon in Florida wearing Team Winter Oakley sunglasses to show support of Team Winter. Half of the proceeds from the sun glasses go directly to prostate cancer research. You can raise money for Team Winter through website. Form your teams or just run with you and your family. We will see you in Charlevoix!

Saturday, April 4, 2009

A New Chapter Begins

It has been just over 3 weeks since we all laid in bed as one family, a family of 6. Now 5 seems odd, probably because it is, but the talk about #6, Dad, can be heard throughout the home. The 10-month transition we all went through to get to this point is probably the most ideal time someone could ask for. Not abrupt, not long and drawn out into years with lots of pain and suffering. The kids have transitioned into this new chapter with amazing strides of growth. Yukon has found his true passion in life and will no doubt help revolutionize the computer industry. He is working on animation projects, working on his third short movie release and just last night talked about starting to code apps for Apple. Magnum is secure in his own world. Him, with longie (his blanket) at his side are unstoppable. His quiet smile says it all. He can run and play with the best of them. Ruger, no need for me to keep the home clean because he is on top of it. He is one of mom's biggest helpers. His dream is to shop all day long to help decorate the home for each upcoming holiday. He does require a lot more of my time and attention, which will lead us to the next paragraph in a minute. Winter, what can I say. Managing Team Winter now requires daily attention to business, especially since race season will start in just a short 3 weeks. Winter is now being fueled by a new internal anger that has started to surface. She will be learning to channel this anger away from her brothers and directly at cancer. If you have not seen the recent LAF (Lance Armstrong Foundation) video, YOU MUST!! I will post it on the side. This is what Winter says about cancer, “I WILL chase you to the end of this earth and stomp you out like you stomped my dad out".

So why this picture that I posted? Many of you know what mountain this is. This won't be the view as we see it, but maybe from Michael's perspective. This is our new home. This will be the kids new stomping ground and playground. This is Mount Hood in Oregon. So many of you are baffled by the move. Did I all of a sudden just decide we needed to move? This was the master plan of Michael and I that dates back over a year, before Michael was diagnosed. We knew we needed a change and Michael needed a new place to grow and spread his wings. be more able to be a MOM...which now is more true than ever. You can't buy time so you need to create it. A new job was offered to me with impecable timing. Michael was hoping to make the move with us but just two weeks before his passing, finally confessed, "I am not going to make it to the move". Tough words to hear...Prior to that there was never a mention of giving up, quitting the fight, giving in to cancer, backing down. Hospice helped him realize that he was fighting the inevitable and that just letting go is sometimes all right and what is necessary. I think that was the hardest thing Michael has ever had to do. But he did so in the arms of his family, surrounded in love. He knew when it was time to go. If only all of us will have such perfect timing.

So back to the move. Sorry I get side-tracked but sometimes there are things that just need to be said. Michael, more than anything, wanted to make it to the Pacific Northwest. Hunting, fishing, mountains and streams....are you kidding me. It is every outdoorsman's dream. And for the kids...windsurfing, the beach, kayaking, biking and downhill skiing all in the same day! No where else in the US can you do that. We had planned for months to move in April, not knowing what Michael's fate would be. You have to set a goal and move forward despite what is thrown in the path. We set our goal and in two weeks will begin the treck (wagon train to the Pacific Northwest as the kids call it). WHY? you still say. I don't have a list of very many people who would offer to come over at a phone calls notice every other day or night to watch the kids as I get called in to work. Even close family can't guarentee they can ALWAYS be there. Living and practicing medicine in a small town does have some disadvantages and that is the biggest. I have carried a cell phone and pager for a total of 4 years of my last 8 years here. I want to be married to my kids, not a cell phone or pager. This new job entails me working 4 days a week and only 5 days of call (catching babies) a month (TOTAL). With facebook and skype, my kids are not leaving their close friends behind. They are creating a great place for friends to come visit and spend quality time, that includes family. Plus, Salem (the Capital of Oregon) which will be our new home has a population of 150,000 and still has an economy. Biking is the norm for transportation, people are eco-friendly, exercise is visible everywhere. A new 60 million dollar Aquatic Center opens in September 2009. We will be 45 minutes from the ocean, 45 minutes from Portland (airport), 45 minutes from 2 mountain ranges and some of the best year-round skiing. I will teach the kids to salmon fish and Winter will put that new bow to great use putting meat on our table. Need I say more and if I will never get it and that is OK.

I needed that last paragraph! So many people have been asking us and family members and close friends "Why are they moving?" Now they know..."the rest of the story".

Are the kids excited? Winter and Ruger have had their rooms packed for a week. Magnum has 3 tubs packed with Racoons and that is all he cares about. If you didn't know, he has a collection of over 60 racoons and they are going to love Oregon and all those Douglas Firs. Yukon is packed, just a laptop case in hand, he's good. That leaves me packing the rest. This is all easy compared to what Michael went through. You will never hear me whine....ok almost never.

The kids and I will spend the next few weeks ahead addressing the hundreds of letters, cards, gifts and outpourings of love to our family. Not to mention the hundreds who logged in online from across the US to let us know we have a large extended family in this world who await us with arms open. Many of which we will see in the next year as Team Winter travels across the US, doing what we know best.......Racing, Raising Awareness and Stomping Out step at a time.

God Bless!

Dawn, Yukon

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

Friday, February 13, 2009

Special Rachael Ray Show Today

If you get a chance today, watch The Rachel Ray Show on ABC.  See local listing for time.  Around our area it airs at noon.  Winter is Rachael's guest to talk about Team Winter and what she is doing about her dad's cancer.

Thanks for your prayers,
Dawn, Michael & Kids