Meet Team Winter

Since our product launch in May 2008, we have been fortunate to meet some extraordinary people. People that inspire and move us. Over the next several posts, I will introduce you to some of these friends in hopes that they will inspire you with their passion as much as they have us.

I’ll start with Team Winter

Team Winter is a non profit organization raising money and awareness for prostate cancer. The spearhead behind the organization is Winter Vinecki, an 11 year old triathlete who lost her dad, Michael, to prostate cancer when she was 9. The team behind Winter is her mom, Dr. Dawn Estelle, and her three brothers –Yukon (13), Magnum (9) and Ruger (7).

I first heard of Winter over a year ago, when my friend Scott Zagarino, a fellow Shorty Award winner, told me he had shared some Action Wipes with her. After I learned of Winter’s story, I was instantly captivated. So when she wrote to me a couple months ago asking if I would consider sponsoring her with Action Wipes, my immediate response was ‘YES!’ (Ok, let’s get corny - she actually had me at “hello”!)

Now, let me say this – Winter, at 11 years old, already has amazing vision, dedication and drive. I’m sure we’ll be seeing her in the Olympics in the very near future! And, after spending time with her, I found that her strength comes from her family. Like Samson counted on his hair for strength, Winter counts on Dawn and the boys.

The cohesiveness, love and support of this family blows me away. And the more I come to know them, the more in awe I become. And as amazing as Winter is – her mom and brothers need to be recognized, cheered and supported as well…

I don’t know how Dawn does it – widowed much too soon, she is the sole supporter (emotionally and financially) to these four, incredible kids. And as if being a full time, loving mom is not enough, she is a full time physician and Team Winter’s janitor, secretary, travel agent, tradeshow & logistics coordinator, vendor relationship liaison, accounts payable & receivable, marketing & PR, promotions, sponsorship coordinator, fund raiser and…best friend. She’s related to the energizer rabbit! I know it!

And then there is Yukon. At 13, this smart, loving boy is already entrenched in the daily business activities of Team Winter, while keeping up with his school homework and own athletic aspirations. Yukon has taken on the task of updating, maintaining and improving the Team Winter website – without any formal technical training. He also maintains all social media aspects of the organization – tweeting and facebooking as time permits. At events, you’ll find him in the Team Winter tent, in charge of sales.

Laughter and balances comes easily when Magnum and Ruger are in da-house. The personality differences between these two couldn’t be farther apart than when the red sea parted. But they too, are a crucial link in Winter’s circle of strength and, you’ll find them promoting and helping at events too. In fact, you’ll find the entire family promoting Team Winter, their sponsors and helping at the tent.

For so many families, the death of a spouse/parent can shatter the fragile bonds of the family, but the Vineckis found strength in each other and have rallied around the gifted talents of Winter as a way to stay connected. While Winter’s achievements are awesome on their own merits, what is truly inspiring and heartwarming is the love, friendship and camaraderie that Dawn, Yukon, Magnum and Ruger all bring to the Vinecki team. They are the inspiration for Winter and they are all truly an inspiration to me. We are proud to know them and to help in a very small way with a sponsorship from Action Wipes.

If you want to support Team Winter, go to and make a donation and you’ll make their day. 100% of it goes to cancer research. Now how many other non-profits can say this?!

Thank you FedEx!

(AP Photo/The Tennessean, John Partipilo)
If you hadn’t heard about the Nashville floods last week, then you must have been hiding under a rock – like me. I was so busy preparing and attending the Avia Wildflower Triathlon (notice I said “attending” not “participating”), that I had not watched, read or listened to the news in over a week. So I was clueless that something so devastating was happening in Tennessee - until my Twitter buddy, Newton Dominey of The Crag at Cool Springs Climbing Facility ( @cragcoolsprings ) contacted me.

On Monday, Newton sent me an email asking if I would consider sending some Action Wipes for the volunteers and shelters in Nashville. He advised that the city was under water after a storm dropped 13 inches in a short period of time and that one of the water processing plants was submerged, thus causing a severe water shortage. The city was asking its residents to cut water usage as much as possible – which meant the volunteers could not shower.

My immediate response was “of course!” I told Newton I would be happy to send several cases after he confirmed the city would accept them. (You may be asking yourself “why would you ask that?!” Well, when I wanted to help the Haiti disaster, none, and I mean NONE, of the agencies would take the Action Wipes - even though “hygiene, baby wipes and wet wipes” were listed on the “Need” lists. They would only accept cash donations.)

A day later, Newton called to tell me he had spoken to the Mayor’s office and they would love to have the Action Wipes. So, I told him I would send them out right away. As time was of the essence, they had to be shipped overnight, they could not wait for ground shipping, which takes a week. I was so happy they could actually use the wipes that I didn’t even think about the cost to ship several boxes “overnight”. So when I went to the USPS and UPS sites to calculate overnight shipping, I just about fell out of my chair when I saw the rates! (USPS quoted $309 and UPS quoted $490 to $690, depending what time of day I wanted it there.) As a small business, I just can't afford the overnight shipping.

So I called UPS, explained the situation and asked if there was anyway they could provide better rates. Their immediate answer was “no, those are the rates”. So I asked if they could verify that the boxes would get there first thing in the morning, only to find out they were not delivering to the area at all. Next call was to USPS. I asked the same thing, “do you have a disaster fund that can help me get these boxes at a better rate?” “No, and delivery to the area is being delayed due to the floods" they advised.

Now, when I get something in my head, I leave no stone unturned! I knew there had to be someone out there that could help me, help Nashville. So I began calling friends and shipping companies everywhere and still, no one could help me. Then, I realized I had not yet tried FedEx!

Frustrated, tired and on the verge of tears, I called FedEx - after going to their website first and finding the Custom Critical Surface and Air Expedite number, which I thought was a good place to start. I went through the story again and asked if they could help. I was advised it would cost about $900 as I had to rent the entire truck.

*Sigh* My first thought was…”Sh*t, H*ll, F*ck!” But, here is what real customer service is all about… realizing my frustration and hearing the “sniff, sniff” of my dripping nose and teary eyes, he suggests we try a different department. He then calls around and transfers me to the Standard Shipping Division. It’s getting better, they quote me $695. As my voice starts to quiver and tears start to roll down my face, Gary then suggests “let’s try the Customer Advocate Division”. What?!

After going through a couple of transfer hiccups, I’m finally speaking with Debbie in the Customer Advocate Division. Unfortunately, she can’t help me either…but again, Debbie doesn’t blow me off, she suggests I speak with the “Charity Division”. What the…did she say “ Charity Division”?!

Now I'm hopeful; can FedEx really help me?

Enter Lisa from… the Charity Division. I don’t even get five words out when she asks “how many boxes we talking about?” Four I tell her, “what’s the weight?” 72 lbs I advise, “Oh hell, that’s nothing. Here’s what I need you to do…” Holy crap, I actually found someone that can help me. I’m shocked, I’m in disbelief, I don’t understand. “What’s it going to cost me?” I ask. “Don’t worry about it honey, we’ll take care of it. When tomorrow do you need it there?” she asks “Um, first thing in the morning?” I ask timidly. “OK, is 8:30am good?” she wonders, “Um, um, yeah!” I reply.

And batta bing, batta bang holy Batman, we have a shipment going to Nashville – overnight!

THEY DID IT. FedEx stepped up to the plate and delivered. This huge corporation helped me, a small business, help Nashville. The packages arrived as promised at 8:35am the next morning. Amazing! 

So Thank you FedEx for caring. Your great customer service helped me help others. I am - forever grateful.

And thank you Heileigh of Perry’s Parcel and Courier Service in Atascadero for helping me get all the labeling right and the boxes ready for pickup! You too are awesome.