Piotr Malachowski won a silver medal representing his native Poland in the discus during the Rio Olympics. His was one of 11 won by the country. Making your country’s Olympic team is a dream come true. Winning a medal is on a different plane of accomplishment entirely.
On Tuesday, Malachowski auctioned his medal to Poland’s richest family. He didn’t do it for himself, though. There are no big houses, stretch limousines or extravagant trips in Malachowski future.
He auctioned his medal away to save the sight and the life of 3-year-old Olek Szymanski. Young Olek has retinoblastoma (eye cancer) and the surgery he needs costs $126,000. A charitable organization in Poland had already raised one-third of the money, but the effort required one more, big heave – something that could only come from one of the best discus throwers in the world.
“We were able to show that together we can do wonders,” Malachowski wrote on his Facebook page. “My silver medal today is worth a lot more than a week ago. It is worth the life and health of small Olek. It is our great shared success.”
It’s often said the great ones make others around them better. While discus throwing is very much an individual endeavor, Malachowski used his considerable strength and skill to make a child’s life better. And for that, he is elevated higher than any medal stand could place him.