Polish Olympian auctions off medal to help with infant's heart surgery, but winning bidder won't accept

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Polish javelin thrower and Olympian Maria Andrejczyk has auctioned off her silver medal to help raise money for an infant’s heart surgery, but the winning bidder has refused to accept her medal. 

Andrejczyk, 25, took to Facebook last week to announce that she would be auctioning off her silver medal to help raise funds for 8-month-old Miloszek Malysa, of Poland, who was in need of life-saving heart surgery. 

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“Miłoszek has a serious heart defect, he needs an operation,” Andrejczyk wrote. “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 … And in this way, I also want to help. It’s for him that I am auctioning my Olympic silver medal.”

Andrejczyk won silver in Tokyo with a throw of 64.61 meters. That was five centimeters better than world champion Kelsey-Lee Barber of Australia. She previously placed fourth at the 2016 Olympics in Rio after leading the qualifying round with a throw that would have won that final.

Silver medalist Maria Andrejczyk, of Poland, poses on the podium during the medal ceremony for the women's javelin throw at the 2020 Summer Olympics, Saturday, Aug. 7, 2021, in Tokyo. (AP Photo/Martin Meissner)

Silver medalist Maria Andrejczyk, of Poland, poses on the podium during the medal ceremony for the women’s javelin throw at the 2020 Summer Olympics, Saturday, Aug. 7, 2021, in Tokyo. (AP Photo/Martin Meissner)

The Olympian said in her post that the infant would need around $385,000 to cover the cost of transportation and medical care for the surgery at Stanford University Medical Center, adding that half had already been raised by the family in an online fundraiser, Yahoo Sports reported. 

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Her medal would be used to raise the rest. 

“The true value of a medal always remains in the heart,” Andrejczyk said of her decision, via 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.”

But Andrejczyk’s generosity was matched. 

Żabka, a Polish supermarket chain, won the bid of $125,000 and instead of accepting the silver medal, decided to let Andrejczyk hold on to it. 

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“We were moved by the beautiful and extremely noble gesture of our Olympian, therefore we decided to support the collection of funds for the sick Miloszek,” the company said in a statement on Facebook. 

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

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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