This Olympian has a medal around her neck and a heart full of gold.
Polish javelin thrower Maria Magdalena Andrejczyk won silver at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, but she took gold in the hearts of fans around the world. She auctioned off her silver medal for $125,000 in order to help raise money to pay for an 8-month-old baby's heart surgery.
On Wednesday, Andrejczyk posted on her Facebook page that she came across a fundraiser for an infant named Miłoszek Małysa, who had a serious heart defect and ultimately needed surgery. As a bone cancer survivor herself, Andrejczyk auctioned off her medal right on her Facebook page in order to raise funds for Malysa's surgery.
"He already has a head start from Kubus—a boy who didn't make it in time but whose amazing parents decided to pass on the funds they collected," Andrejczyk wrote in Polish on her Facebook post. "And in this way, I also want to help. It's for him that I am auctioning my Olympic silver medal."
Andrejczyk took bids for her medal through Facebook messenger and on August 16, five days after the auction opened, she announced there was a winner. A Polish convenience store chain named Zabka had the highest bid at $125,000. The bid was enough to pay for Malaysa's entire surgery.
"The winner, and at the same time, the company I will be eternally grateful to is the company Zabka," posted Andrejczyk. "It is with the greatest pleasure to give you, Zabka this medal, which for me is a symbol of struggle, faith and pursuit of dreams despite many odds."
In a surprising turn of events, Zabka gave the medal back to Andrejczyk.
"We were moved by the beautiful and extremely noble gesture of our Olympia girl," the company stated in a Facebook post. "So we decided to support the collection of funds for the benefit. We also decided that the silver medal from Tokyo will stay with Ms. Maria, who showed how Great the Champion is."
Andrejczyk missed medaling in the 2016 Olympics in Rio by two centimeters. Her journey to Tokyo was extremely difficult as she suffered from a shoulder injury in 2017 and was diagnosed with osteosarcoma, a type of cancer in the cells that form bones in 2018. Three weeks after her surgery, she was back training again with her eyes set on Tokyo.
"I just want to be healthy first," she said. "If I stay healthy I can then show what I’m capable of. I still love that feeling of improving through training. Javelin has made me a better person. It brings me joy."
Andrejczk soared in Tokyo during the 2020 Olympics. She won a silver medal with a throw of 64.61 meters, while Liu Shiying of China took gold with 66.34.
Andrejcyzk's silver medal provided evidence of her dedication, determination, and pure athletic will. However, the actions she took after returning home from Tokyo truly took the gold. She proves to the world what being an Olympic athlete really means.
What do you think of Andrejcyk's act of pure kindness? Let us know how you feel in the comments!