A Polish javelin thrower who won silver in the Tokyo Olympics auctioned off her medal for $125,000 to help a baby in her country get life-saving heart surgery in the US – and the winner rewarded her kindness by letting her keep it, according to a report.
Five days after her second-place finish, Maria Andrejczyk, 25, announced on Facebook that she decided to sell her medal to raise funds for 8-month-old Miloszek Malysa, who has to travel to California to undergo the surgery at Stanford University Medical Center.
The altruistic athlete, a cancer survivor who didn’t know the infant, wrote that she acted after reading his parents’ pleas online, Yahoo Sports reported.
“Miłoszek has a serious heart defect, he needs an operation,” Andrejczyk wrote in Polish, according to Google Translate. “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,” she added.
Andrejczyk wrote that Miloszek needed 1.5 million zlotys — about $385,000 — to cover the costs of his transportation to the US and treatment.
She wrote that half the amount had already been raised by a family fundraiser and that her goal along with Małysa’s mom was to raise the other half through the Olympic auction.
Andrejczyk — who came in fourth in the 2016 Rio Olympics — was diagnosed in 2018 with osteosarcoma, a cancer that forms in the cells that form bones, according to Yahoo Sports.
She required surgery, but not chemotherapy and was able to resume training for the Tokyo Games in 2019.
On Aug. 6, she won the silver with a throw of 64.61 meters, behind China’s gold-medal winner Shiying Liu, whose javelin flew 66.34 meters.
“The true value of a medal always remains in the heart. 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,” Andrejczyk told a Polish TV station, the Times of London reported.
On Monday, Andrejczyk announced on Facebook that a Polish convenience store chain made the winning bid.
“We have the winner of the auction!” she wrote. “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.”
She added: “The winner, and at the same time, the company I will be eternally grateful to is the company Zabka.”
The company then made its own announcement on Facebook.
“We were moved by the beautiful and extremely noble gesture” made by Andrejczyk, Zabka wrote. “We also decided that the silver medal from Tokyo will stay with Ms. Maria.”
Another Pole, Piotr Malachowksi, also sold the silver medal he won in Rio to pay for a boy’s surgery for eye cancer. A billionaire paid for the medal and the operation, according to the Times of London.