All too omnipresent a hardship in this day and age is the awful situation in which someone suffers from a medical condition that would be bad enough if there were no complicating factors to made it any scarier or more insurmountable. We each can rattle off a long laundry list.
And nothing tends to further exacerbate such a thing as having a heart condition in desperate need of rectification than being unable to easily shoulder the financial burden of such a serious, complicated and risky procedure as an operation to address a pediatric cardiovascular defect such as one young boy.
But where human suffering looms largest, sometimes that is just where the greatest symbols of human goodness do too, and where they are able to translate from that good into tangible aid needed to save a life. An Olympic medal means greatness, and in this case so does its sale.
Maria Andrejczyk of Poland is a javelin thrower who had missed medalling in that discipline in 2016 at the Rio Summer Olympics. In 2018, she was diagnosed with bone cancer and has spoken in interviews of how she fought through pain and attendant depression in order to return to her sport. And return she did, ultimately garnering silver at the 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympics in, as we all know, 2021.
That achievement, inspiring in its own right without regard for what was to unfold, may have paved the way on multiple levels: in one sense, the experience of becoming one of the greatest athletes in the world after surviving her own brush with death could have instilled in her a fervent desire to help others in the same way. The medal itself made that possible.
Miloszek Malysa, eight months of age, has a heart condition that makes his blood pressure rise enormously and damage, presently receives hospice care at his home in southern Poland, with potentially life-saving surgery awating at Stanford University Medical Center in the United States. As an online fundraising page would indicate, what has been wanting in order to make the surgery happen is the financial expense. Enter javelin thrower Andrejczyk, who decided to auction off her silver medal for the cause.
“The true value of a medal always remains in the heart,” said Andrejczyk about her decision. “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.”
With the medal sold at auction for 125,000 dollars to Polish convenience store chain Zabka, payment for the surgery has been secured, upholding the very highest ideals which the medal and the quadrennial competition in which it was won have always sought to stand for. And not only did the athlete’s willingness to sacrifice result in life-saving care being rendered, but reward above and beyond her selfless desires came to her as well: the company will allow the pole vaulter to retain possession of the medal.
“We were moved by the beautiful and extremely noble gesture of our Olympian, so we decided to support the fundraiser for Miloszek,” said the chain about the athlete’s generous act and its own winning bid in a tweet. “We also decided the silver medal will remain with Mrs. Maria.”