Polish javelin thrower Maria Andrejczyk took the silver medal at the Tokyo Olympics. While she might have come in second at the games, what she did next was pure gold.
Less than two weeks after ascending the winner’s podium, Andrejczyk took an extraordinary leap of generosity, auctioning off her medal to raise funds for Miłoszek Małys, an 8-month-old Polish boy in critical need of heart surgery.
The athlete had never met Miłoszek or his family. She learned of his struggles through social media. But 25-year-old Andrejczyk a cancer survivor herself, knew just how important obtaining timely medical could be.
“Miłoszek has a serious heart defect, he needs an operation,” Andrejczyk posted to her Facebook page. “He also has support from above from Kubuś—a boy who did not make it on time, but wonderful people decided to donate his funds to Miłoszek. And this is how I want to help too. It is for him that I am auctioning off my Olympic silver medal.”
All told, it was estimated that costs for medical expenses plus travel from Poland to California’s Stanford University where the operation would be performed would total 1.5 million Polish zlotys (about $385,000).
With half the sum already raised through online contributions, Andrejczyk hoped her medal would bring in the rest. The winning bid not only met but exceeded the original fundraising goals.
“We have the winner!” Andrejczyk posted. “On Friday I received this wonderful information, and due to the fact that you dears have already done wonders and joint forces have paid more than the equivalent of the initial medal to the Miłoszek account—I decided to end the auction so that our Miłoszek will receive the whole amount as soon as possible and can fly to the USA.”
Sorry as she might have been to see her medal go, Andrejczyk was thrilled to know the profits from its sale were earmarked for a worthy cause.
“The true value of a medal always remains in the heart,” Andrejczyk said, as quoted by The Times of London. “A medal is only an object, but it can be of great value to others. This silver can save lives, instead of collecting dust in a closet. That is why I decided to auction it to help sick children.”
But it seems the winning bidders, Polish convenience store chain Zabka, had some pretty big-hearted plans of their own. In honor of her winning ways both on the Olympic field and off, the company gifted Andrejczyk back her medal.
“We were moved by the beautiful and extremely noble gesture of our Olympian, we decided to support [the benefit],” Zabka posted to Facebook. “We also decided that the silver medal from Tokyo will stay with Ms. Maria, who showed what it means to be [a true champion].”
While silver has always been considered a precious metal, in this case, its value in helping save the life of a child was priceless—and that’s a win of Olympic proportions for everyone.
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