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Olympian auctions off his silver medal to fund a child’s cancer treatment

The Washington Post logo The Washington Post 28/08/2016 Marissa Payne
Piotr Malachowski holds his silver medal during the medal ceremony for the men’s discus throw Aug. 13. © Quinn Rooney/Getty Images Piotr Malachowski holds his silver medal during the medal ceremony for the men’s discus throw Aug. 13.

Athletes work years, sometimes their whole lives, in the hopes of being able to bring home an Olympic medal and display it in their trophy case. But for Polish discus thrower Piotr Malachowski, who took home the silver at the Rio Games this month, he put his medal somewhere else — the online-auction site eBay.

Malachowski’s aim, he wrote on Facebook last week, wasn’t to turn a quick buck for himself but to raise funds so that a 3-year-old boy with a rare form of eye cancer could get treatment he desperately needed.

Malachowski learned of the child’s illness from the boy’s mother, who wrote him asking for his help. The boy, identified as Olek in Malachowski’s Facebook posts, suffers from retinoblastoma, a malignant cancer of the eye that most commonly affects children. Treating the disease is difficult and, according to Malachowski, can only be done in New York, which makes the cost of the treatment even more prohibitive.

Olek is fighting eye cancer. © Facebook/Piotr Malachowski Olek is fighting eye cancer.

“I decided to help and put my medal up for bidding,” Malachowski wrote in his post. “The entire amount will be earmarked for Olek’s treatment.”

He added: “In Rio, I fought for gold. Today I appeal to everyone. Let’s fight together for something that is even more precious — the health of this fantastic boy.”

The bids came in, and by Tuesday, the highest offer was roughly $19,000, still far short of the $126,000 needed for Olek’s treatment, ESPN reports. But that’s when two Polish billionaire siblings, Dominika and Sebastian Kulczyk, stepped in. Malachowski didn’t disclose the pair’s bid but said in an update posted to Facebook on Tuesday that the duo “declared their willingness to buy my silver medal for an amount which enables us to meet the goal set.”

“We were able to show that together we can make miracles,” Malachowski continued. “My silver medal today is worth a lot more than it was a week ago. It is worth the life and health of little Olek. This is our great, shared success.”

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