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Olympian auctions silver medal to fund young boy's heart surgery, but winning bidder won't accept it

The Polish javelin thrower, who's a cancer survivor, learned of the crowdfunding campaign by parents of the baby and decided to help.

TOKYO, JAPAN - AUGUST 07: Silver medalist Maria Andrejczyk of Team Poland on day fifteen of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at Olympic Stadium on August 07, 2021 in Tokyo, Japan. (Photo by Matthias Hangst/Getty Images)
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After fractionally missing a podium finish in Rio Olympics in 2016, Polish javelin thrower Maria Andrejczyk, 25, clinched silver in Tokyo. It was a moment that was over 10 years in the making and she had a beautiful silver medal to show for it. Five days after winning silver, Andrejczyk put the medal up for auction after learning that an infant needed money for a life-saving operation. Not only did she manage to raise the required funds to save the baby's life, but the winning bidder also told her she could keep the medal, reported Yahoo News. Being a cancer survivor, Andrejczyk is no stranger to health struggles and wanted to help the family.  

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BYDGOSZCZ, POLAND - AUGUST 10: Maria Andrejczyk from Poland competes in womens javelin final while European Athletics Team Championships Super League Bydgoszcz 2019 - Day Two at Zawisza Stadium on August 10, 2019 in Bydgoszcz, Poland. (Photo by Adam Nurkiewicz/Getty Images)

 

 

On August 11, just five days after securing the silver medal Andrejczyk announced she was putting it up for auction. The javelin thrower said she needed the money to help an 8-month-old boy, Miłoszek Małysa, to travel from Poland to Stanford University in California to have life-saving heart surgery. Andrejczyk said she didn't know the Małysa personally but she had come across her parents' plea and she wanted to help. "Miłoszek has a serious heart defect, he needs an operation," wrote Andrejczyk. "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."

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Małysa needs 1.5 million Polish zlotys (roughly $385,000) to cover the costs of his transportation and medical care. Andrejczyk said half of the money had been raised by the parents through an online fundraiser. The javelin thrower was hoping to cover the rest of the costs through the auction of her medal. There was an overwhelming reaction to the post and she managed to exceed the fundraising goal. 

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The medal was the fruits of years of hard work but she knew at the end of the day, it was just a medal, an object. "The true value of a medal always remains in the heart," said Andrejczyk, reported 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." 

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Cancer survivor
The 25-year-old had been diagnosed with osteosarcoma, a type of cancer that forms in the cells that form bones in 2018. This had come just two years after she competed at the 2016 Olympics and finished two centimeters off the podium place, finishing fourth. Her plans for the Tokyo Olympics went out of the window. She soon learned that she didn't need chemotherapy but required surgery. Andrejczyk recovered in time to restart training for the Tokyo summer Olympics in 2019. At the Olympics, she threw 64.61 meters, to clinch silver. She finished behind China's gold-medal winner Shiying Liu (66.34 meters) on August 6. 

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TOKYO, JAPAN - AUGUST 06: Maria Andrejczyk of Team Poland celebrates with the national flag after winning silver in the women's Javelin Final on day fourteen of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at Olympic Stadium on August 6, 2021 in Tokyo, Japan. (Photo by Aleksandra Szmigiel - Pool / Getty Images)

 

It was a Polish convenience store chain called Zabka that made the winning bid, helping cover the infant's medical and travel costs. "We have the winner of the auction!" announced Andrejczyk. "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 wrote, before adding, "The winner, and at the same time, the company I will be eternally grateful to is the company Zabka."

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Zabka confirmed winning the bid and made a grand gesture by telling the javelin thrower to jeep the medal. "We were moved by the beautiful and extremely noble gesture" made by Andrejczyk. Zabka declined to accept the silver medal, and wrote, "We also decided that the silver medal from Tokyo will stay with Ms. Maria."

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