August 25, 2016

A boy needed $126,000 for cancer treatment. This athlete sold his Olympic medal to help.

  By Evan Porter

Poland's Piotr Malachowski is one of the world's top discus throwers.

He has a solid Olympic record. He won a silver medal in Beijing during the 2008 games, and is also the proud owner of the fifth-longest discus throw ever: 71.84 meters (FYI, that's really far).

But at the Rio Olympics, the competition was intense. If Malachowski wanted to take home a medal, it would be one of the biggest challenges of his life.

In the end, he was narrowly edged out by a German competitor for the gold in Rio. But still, he was plenty proud to take home another silver medal for his country.

Malachowski warms up. Photo by Ranck Fife/AFP/Getty Images.

Now a two-time Olympic medalist, Malachowski was flooded with congratulations and well wishes after his final throw.

But one letter of congratulations stood out to him because it was from a mother desperate for his help.

Her name was Goshia, Malachowski wrote, and her 3-year-old son, Olek, was suffering from a rare form of cancer known as retinoblastoma, or cancer of the eye.

Though the disease is treatable, Goshia wrote to Malachowski that the only way to save her son's eyesight was to take him to New York City for treatment by a top ophthalmologist. Needless to say, that would be far too expensive for her family to afford on its own.

When a child is gravely ill, there's almost nothing their parent wouldn't do .... including writing to Olympic athletes for help.

Malachowski proudly waves the Polish flag. Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images.

When Malachowski heard Olek's story, he knew the timing was "fate." He decided he had to help.

An organization called Siepomaga had already raised a significant amount of money for Olek's treatment, but there was a long way to go. The total fundraising goal was around $126,000.

So the Olympian ponied up the most valuable thing he owned — his most recent silver medal.

In a Facebook post, he told his followers he was putting his prized medal up for auction to cover the rest of the costs:

"In Rio I fought for gold," he wrote. "Today I call on all people — let us fight together for something that is even more valuable. For the health of this fantastic boy."

The auction lasted only a few days before a wealthy brother and sister made Malachowski a private offer he couldn't refuse.

ESPN reported that the top bid for Piotr's medal was roughly $19,000 before the final offer came in. Though he didn't share the exact amount, Malachowski made it clear in another Facebook post that the final sale price was enough to cover the rest of Olek's treatment.

"Thank you everyone who took part in the auction," he wrote. "We were able to show that together we can make miracles. My silver medal today is worth much more than a week ago."

Malachowski's massively selfless act is only the beginning of this story. 3-year-old Olek still has a long fight ahead of him.

Hopefully, with the world's top doctors working tirelessly to treat his disease, he can come out on top. We're rooting for you, buddy.

And as for Malachowski himself, he may be down one medal. But after this priceless gift, he's certainly earned the right to be called the people's champion forever.