A Family’s Legacy
September 30, 2013
Linda Winsor and Andrew Prokop have seen a side of Paul and Sheila that few have gotten to see – their sweaty side. “We met the Wellstones when they joined the same gym we did,” says Andrew. “And I can tell you that Paul worked as hard on the weight room floor as he did on the Senate floor!”
Like many Minnesotans, the Winsor-Prokop family agrees that you really only needed a few minutes with Paul to know he was a different kind of politician. “That was sort of his magic,” says Linda, “he would make friends with everybody.” Paul’s passion and positivity inspired Linda and Andrew, both long-time community activists, to support politics, the Wellstone Way. They volunteered for Paul’s 1996 and 2002 campaigns, calling supporters and undecided voters, staffing Paul’s booth at the state fair, and marching with him at community festivals and parades.
Andrew and Linda’s eldest son, Louis, remembers one such event quite vividly. “It was a parade in Blaine, for the 4th of July, and it was pretty hot out. Paul had been running back and forth along the parade route, greeting people, and we were marching behind him. He just couldn’t stay in the car – he had to get out there and meet people face to face, zig-zagging back and forth to shake everyone’s hand. At one point, he even offered us his seat. Even though he had MS (Multiple Sclerosis) and could have maybe used a rest, he didn’t stop or even slow down – that’s who he was.”
Linda and Andrew believe, and have raised their three sons to believe, something that Paul Wellstone lived every day – that politics is about people, and that each of us has a role to play in improving our communities. “I used to say that when my kids got to be old enough, I’d go work for Paul,” recalls Linda. The plane crash in 2002 changed Linda’s plan. “It was such a dark time. We were so grateful to Jeff [Blodgett], Connie [Lewis] and others who gathered to form Wellstone Action – it was really important to have something come of this tragedy that was positive, and that could continue Paul’s work. There was so much left for us to do.”
Andrew and Linda stepped forward to support Wellstone Action immediately, becoming founding donors for the organization – and they’ve continued their support for ten generous years in the form of a monthly, sustaining gift. They’ve also given something far greater to Wellstone Action – the time and passion of their son, Louis, who has been a member of our staff for five years and today serves as our Operations and Development Manager. Even better? Louis met his wife, Jen, at Wellstone Action (she’s our Director of Camp Wellstone and our Advanced Campaign Management School), and they’ve just celebrated their third wedding anniversary!
“Wellstone Action is important to us for many reasons,” says Andrew, “not just because of our connection to Paul and Sheila, not just because it personally affects our family, but because it has a powerful ripple effect at its core – it takes Paul’s ideas about empowering people to do something and guides them on how to do exactly that. Wellstone Action builds community all over the country.”
Linda and Andrew are committed to continuing the Wellstone legacy. “The nonprofit of my heart is Wellstone Action,” says Linda. “Paul and Sheila would feel so good about this organization. You really are building a country where ‘we all do better when we all do better.’”
(We could never do it without such generous supporters like you!)