Maria Andrejczyk, a Polish javelin thrower who won silver in her event in Tokyo, announced on Monday that an auction of her medal had raised 200,000 zloty ($51,000) for the heart surgery of a young boy – and that donations from fans had increased the total to 500,000 zloty ($128,000).
Andrejczyk made the decision to auction off her silver medal on August 11th to raise money for an 8-month-old infant named Miłosz, who has a rare heart condition and whose only hope of survival is costly life-saving surgery in the United States.
Miłosz’ family had started their fundraiser in May with a target of 1,500,000 zloty ($385,000); and thanks in large part to Andrejczyk’s efforts have now reached over 95 percent of their goal. The winning bid for the medal came from national convenience store chain Żabka Polska.
“We have a bidding winner!”, wrote Andrejczyk on her Facebook page after receiving the news. “The winner and at the same time the company to which I will be eternally grateful is Żabka. It is with the greatest pleasure that I give Żabka – a small, huge shop – my medal, which for me is a symbol of struggle, faith and the pursuit of dreams despite many adversities. I hope that for you it will be a symbol of the life for which we fought together”.
Thanking her fans for their individual contributions, the total of which surpassed Żabka’s bid amount, she went on to reveal that Miłosz’ family would have the funds transferred to them shortly.
“Due to the fact that you, dear ones, have already worked miracles and together you have contributed more than the equivalent of the initial amount of the medal to Miłoszek’s account I decided to end the auction so that our Miłosz would receive the entire amount as soon as possible and could fly to the USA”, she wrote.
Andrejczyk, whose hard-fought silver came after she survived a potentially career-ending bout with bone cancer in 2018, was adamant throughout that helping others with the proceeds from the medal was more important to her than having it as a keepsake.
“The true value of a medal always remains in the heart,” she told Polish TV, according to 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.”
However, in a moving gesture, Żabka Polska declared that Andrejczyk would be able to keep her medal despite the company having paid for the right to own it.
“We were moved by the beautiful and extraordinarily noble gesture of our Olympian, therefore we decided to support the collection of funds for the sick Miłosz. We also decided that the silver medal from Tokyo will remain with Ms. Maria, who showed how great of a champion she is”, Żabka Polska said in a statement on Facebook.
Andrejczyk’s endeavor is reminiscent of a similar campaign from five years ago, where discus thrower Piotr Malachowski, also from Poland, auctioned off his silver medal from Rio 2016 to help a three-year-old boy with eye cancer. The medal was purchased by philanthropists Dominika and Sebastian Kulczyk, covering the remaining funds needed for the boy’s surgery.