Olympian auctions off medal to fund a baby boy’s heart surgery, but winning bidder told her to keep it

Competing in the Olympics is no easy feat, but less than a week after clinching a silver medal in Tokyo, Polish javelin thrower Maria Andrejczyk was auctioning it off for a cause.

Five days after winning silver, the 25-year-old athlete put up the medal for auction to raise funds for Miłoszek Małysa, an 8-month-old boy in need of life-saving heart surgery.

The baby needed money to cover the cost of travel from Poland to Stanford University in California for the heart surgery operation.

Maria Andrejczyk

Andrejczyk didn’t know Małysa personally but was moved to help after reading online pleas from the infant’s parents.

“Miłoszek has a serious heart defect, he needs an operation,” Andrejczyk wrote (translated from Polish) on Facebook.

“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.”

Andrejczyk noted that Małysa needed 1.5 million Polish zlotys (around $385,000) to cover his travel and medical care expenses.

Half of that amount had already been raised by the family’s online fundraiser, and Andrejczyk’s goal is to raise the other half by auctioning off her medal.

Maria Andrejczyk throwing a javelin

Andrejczyk, a cancer survivor, is no stranger to the struggles of having a severe illness. She was diagnosed with osteosarcoma—a type of cancer that forms in the cells that form bones—after a sinus x-ray in 2018.

She was required to undergo surgery instead of chemotherapy and was able to start training again for the Tokyo Games in 2019.

She competed in the Rio Olympics back in 2016, where she finished two centimeters off the podium and finished in fourth place.

Luckily, Andrejczyk recovered just in time to compete in Tokyo. Her throw of 64.61 meters bagged her a silver medal on August 6 behind Shiying Liu (66.34 meters), who won gold for China.

Maria Andrejczyk with a javelin across her shoulders

Although winning that medal took years in the making, Andrejczyk said that auctioning it off for a good cause will provide more value than just keeping it.

“The true value of a medal always remains in the heart,” the javelin thrower told 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.”

The public had an overwhelming response to Andrejczyk’s auction. She exceeded the fundraising goals and recently announced that the auction had been closed. A Polish convenience store chain called Zabka made the winning bid of $125,000.

“On Friday I received this wonderful information, and 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,” Andrejczyk wrote on Facebook.

Storefront of a Zabka store
Wikimedia Commons

Andrejczyk’s kind act was matched. Although Zabka won the bid, the company said they were “moved by the beautiful and extremely noble gesture” of Andrejczyk and decided to let her keep her silver medal.

Zabka confirmed it with a statement on Facebook.

“We also decided that the silver medal from Tokyo will remain with Ms. Maria, who showed how great she is,” Zabka wrote.

Andrejczyk said she “will be eternally grateful” to the company for the grand gesture.

Kudos to both Maria Andrejczyk and Zabka for supporting baby Miłoszek Małysa’s heart surgery!

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