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Olympian auctions off medal to pay for toddler's heart operation

"This silver can save lives, instead of collecting dust in a closet," Maria Andrejczyk said.
/ Source: NBC News

A Polish javelin thrower who won a silver medal at the Tokyo Olympics appears to have a heart of gold.

Maria Andrejczyk, herself a bone cancer survivor, auctioned off the medal to give an 8-month-old boy with a heart defect a fighting chance at survival.

The 25-year-old Olympian made the announcement Monday on her Facebook page that the winning bid of $125,000, which was proffered by a Polish convenience store chain, will pay for little Miłoszek Małysa’s operation at Stanford University Medical Center.

“It is with the greatest pleasure that I am handing over to you Żabka, the little big store chain, my medal, which to me is a symbol of faith and perseverance in the face of great obstacles,” she wrote on her page.

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," Andrejczyk said. "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."

The toddler’s condition, according to his fund-raising page, appears to be dire.

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, the page reports.

NBC News has reached out to Stanford University Medical Center to see if the life-saving operation has been scheduled.

Andrejczyk, who is from a small village near the Lithuanian border called Kukle, just missed winning a medal at the Rio Olympics in 2016. Then, two years later, Polish media reported, she was diagnosed with bone cancer.

“I’m very proud of myself,” Andrejczyk said in an interview after returning to Poland from Tokyo. “I fought like a lioness through a lot of pain and depression.”

She’ll also get to keep her hard-fought medal.

After winning the auction, Żabka returned it to Andrejczyk and made a donation for the boy's operation in her name.

"We were moved by the beautiful and extremely noble gesture of our Olympian, so we decided to support the fundraiser for Miłoszek," Żabka tweeted. “We also decided the silver medal will remain with Mrs. Maria.”

Image: Athletics - Olympics: Day 14
Maria Andrejczyk of Team Poland competes in the women's javelin final on day 14 of the Tokyo Olympics at Olympic Stadium on Aug. 6, 2021.Cameron Spencer / Getty Images

Andrejczyk won silver in the women's javelin throw with a 64.61-meter throw. Only Liu Shiying of China did better at 66.34 meters.

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