A Polish javelin thrower, Maria Andrejczyk, who won a silver medal at the Tokyo Olympics auctioned off her silver medal to help pay for the surgery for an 8-month-old boy with a heart defect. The 25-year-old athlete won second place during the Olympic women’s javelin throw final in early August. Andrejczyk, a bone cancer survivor, announced on her Facebook page that the winning bid of $125,000 will pay for little Miłoszek Małysa’s operation at Stanford University Medical Center.
The Polish convenience store chain Zabka placed the top bid, paying $125,000 for the silver medal. After the auction closed, Andrejczyk said in a translated Facebook post that the medal was to her a “symbol of struggle, faith and the pursuit of dreams despite many adversities.”
She added: “I hope that for you it will be a symbol of the life we fought for together.”
The toddler’s condition, according to his fund-raising page, is dire and requires an urgent operation in the United States. Małysa, whose heart defect causes his blood pressure to skyrocket and damage the arteries in his lungs and in the heart, is currently at home in southern Poland and receiving hospice care.
In an interview with a Polish sports program, Andrejczyk said winning the medal “brought her enormous happiness and she wanted to pass that happiness on” to a young child who could use some. “The true value of a medal always remains in the heart but a medal is only an object. 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 a sick child.”
In a twist of equally inspiring kindness, instead of collecting its prize, Zabka announced it would let Andrejczyk keep the silver medal. “We were moved by the beautiful and extremely noble gesture of our Olympian,” the company said in a Facebook post translated from Polish. “We also decided that the silver medal from Tokyo will remain with Ms. Maria, who showed how great she is.” Żabka instead made a donation for the boy’s operation in Andrejczyk’s name.