Civic Leadership Award Honoree 2011

Dr. Dawn Estelle

Vice President - Team Winter

Dawn Estelle was born and raised in rural Northern Michigan, the oldest of four children. Growing up on a large potato farm instilled strong work ethics and lead her to success obtaining her Bachelor of Science Degree at Central Michigan University and later being accepted into Chicago College of Osteopathic Medicine. Dr. Estelle did her residency in Obstetrics and Gynecology at Metropolitan Hospital in Grand Rapids, MI and upon completion, returned to her hometown of Gaylord. Life seemed almost perfect: Board Certified in Obstetrics and Gynecology, a successful private medical practice, a caring husband (Michael Vinecki) and getting to raise her four small children in her hometown.

In May 2008, on Michael’s 40th birthday, devastating news struck Dr. Estelle’s family. Her husband was diagnosed with a rare, aggressive form of prostate cancer. Within 10 months, despite aggressive surgeries and chemotherapy by some of the best doctors in U.S., Michael was gone. Throughout Michael’s 10-month battle, the family did not stand silent. A little girl named Winter, Michael’s daughter, rallied to his cause. Within days of her dad being diagnosed, this 9 year-old knew she needed to combine her passion and talent for running and triathlons with prostate cancer awareness. Team Winter was born. With a strong, supportive role model by her side, mom, Winter was well on her way in making a difference in the world in honor of her dad.

Dr. Dawn Estelle, with initial help from the Prostate Cancer Foundation, helped Winter realize her dream of creating a non-profit to raise awareness for and help fund research for prostate cancer. Since a 9-year old could not establish a business, file for non-profit status, set up banking, travel alone, mom needed to step in. Team Winter is now a rapidly growing 501 (c) (3) non-profit organization where Dr. Estelle serves as Vice President and is aided by three other Board of Directors. It is her passion as a healer and a mother that has given her the energy and determination to not only raise four children as a young widow (Yukon- 14, Winter- 12, Magnum- 10, Ruger- 8), but to be a full-time physician and be the supporting structure behind Team Winter. Not to mention, helping her son, Yukon, run his own website company that he launched when he was just 13.

Dr. Estelle’s daughter, Winter, has become the poster child of prostate cancer. She is the current IronKids Ambassador which is a youth triathlon series involving 25 races a year across the United States. With the help of mom, Winter travels to many of these races serving as a role model to kids. Winter has athletes now around the world, racing for prostate cancer awareness and has helped generate over $300,000 towards prostate cancer awareness and research.

Dr. Estelle maintains her 200 acre estate and dream home in Michigan that Michael helped build. This estate is being turned into a retreat for Prostate Cancer Survivors, a vision of Winter and her three brothers. Families will have a complimentary place to come and stay, heal and reflect.

Winter is about to launch her World Marathon Tour for Prostate Cancer and will be doing her first marathon in Antarctica this November. Dr. Estelle will serve as Executive Supervisor, assisted by six other committee members in orchestrating this global effort for prostate cancer awareness.

The Twilight Benefit is very proud to name Dr. Dawn Estelle a 2011 Twilight Civic Leader Honoree!

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