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The Olympic Spirit is still alive: Poland’s Olympian and Paralympian auction off their Rio-2016 medals to fund children's cancer treatment

Leszek J. Sibilski's picture

 “The things you learn from sports – setting goals, being part of a team, confidence – that’s invaluable. It’s not about trophies and ribbons. It’s about being on time for practice, accepting challenges and being fearful of the elements.” — Summer Sanders
As the Olympic flame, once stolen from Zeus by Prometheus, was extinguished, the world bid farewell to the 2016 Summer Olympics and Paralympics in Rio de Janeiro. The downpour that drenched the Maracana Stadium during the Olympic Closing Ceremony didn’t interrupt the carnival with the Brazilian Balao music. Near the end, to the sound of samba beats, the President of the International Olympic Committee, Thomas Bach declared: “These were marvelous Olympic Games, in the Marvelous City.” A few weeks later at the Paralympic Closing Ceremony, Sir Philip Craven, the President of the International Paralympic Committee proclaimed: “Marvelous Cariocas, you warmly embraced these Games and took the athletes to your hearts. You made the Paralympics your Games, the People’s Games, and we will forever cherish our time spent with you.” 
The next day as guests started to travel back home, the Cariocas were on the verge of facing the reality of post-Olympic nostalgic trauma. To be sure, some of the athletes were already in the middle of the post-Olympic media frenzy; some were sharing the shiny hardware with their communities and their loved ones; some joined the professional tours to continue their season; and some simply went to bed to catch up on some well-deserved sleep. Many of them promised themselves no more -- this is the end of the Olympic journey, and some obliged themselves to work harder to be ready for Tokyo 2020. Some hit the books to experience a back to school reality, and some decided to start families.

For some being an Olympian is simply competing and representing their nation in the Olympics, but in fact once an Olympian you remain an Olympian forever. Most Olympians follow the code of the Olympic ideals and values, and even continue educating others about the Olympic Movement presenting the true character of an Olympian.
But some, like the Polish discus thrower, Piotr Malachowski, who won a silver medal for the second time, along with Polish Paralympics shot put gold medalist, Ewa Durska, have decided to selflessly share the Olympic Spirit in the best imaginable way. Each has auctioned off their Rio medals to fund children’s cancer treatment and in doing so have shared their success with others who are in desperate need of assistance.
The funds raised by Malachowski’s silver medal went to pay for the medical treatment of a 3-year-old boy, Olek, who has been fighting retinoblastoma for the last two years. Retinoblastoma is a rare form of eye cancer that usually affects children. It’s worth noting that Malachowski did a similar deed in 2014 when he donated the Diamond League’s Victorious Trophy for the cancer treatment of another fellow athlete-fencer. 
After the Rio-Games, Olek's mother sent a letter to the Olympian asking him for assistance. Malachowski realized that there is no way to save Olek's eye in Poland. He encouraged his followers to help spread the word about the auction and created the hashtag #OcalicOkoOlka, which in Polish means, "Save Olek's Eye." The athlete's heartfelt post was shared across social media by thousands of people with the following statement:  "For an athlete, to win an Olympic medal is a dream come true... however, fate has given me a chance to increase the value of my silver."

Many months ahead of the Paralympic Games in Rio, Ewa Durska promised herself that if she won the gold medal she would donate it to charity. “I just didn’t want to keep this medal in my closet. I will be truly happy to help another human being.” When she won the gold, she designated the recipient of the auction to be a 9-year-old girl, Wiktoria, who has been fighting leukemia.
We were all in awe with the triple repeat feat of Usain Bolt. We won’t forget the Final Five, and we are still amazed by achievements of swimmer Katie Ledecky. We also cannot forget the participation of the Olympic Refugee Team, which, born out of tragedy and violence, rebuilt a courageous new legacy based on new hopes and dreams. We will never forget the images when US runner Abbey D’Agostino collided with the New Zealand’s Nikki Hamblin during the 5,000 meter qualifying race. Instead of joining the leading pack, leaving an injured runner on the ground behind her, D’Agosino helped Hamblin up, telling her “we have to finish this race.” And they did finish together. What an act of sportsmanship! We were also introduced to the immaturity of some and others who refused to compete clean and fair.
In an interesting conversation I overheard, two accredited reporters debated what would be the weight of all 28 medals that Michael Phelps won in his career. The answer to the initial question is around 8.3 kilograms, which converts to approximately 18 pounds and four ounces! All told, in Rio 2,488 medals were awarded on the Olympic podium that included: 812 gold, 812 silver, and 864 bronze.
One may wonder what athletes actually do with their medals after the Olympics? When Shaun White was asked about the whereabouts of his gold medal, he admitted: “I don’t know where my first gold medal is.” Some have to return their medals after being caught taking performance enhancements drugs. Greg Louganis gave his gold medal to a mother of teen boy who died as a result of contracting HIV via blood transfusion. Tommie Smith’s Olympic gold medal is in a vault somewhere in Texas. Smith along with John Carlos bow his head and raised a black-gloved fist at the medal ceremony during the Olympics in Mexico City in 1968. Every medal won is the result of many years of hard work and sacrifice on a personal and professional level.
After the 2004 Olympics in Athens, basketball player, Sue Bird, was flying back to Seattle when a flight attendant recognized her and asked to see her gold medal. "And before I knew it, that medal was in the cockpit and then in the back of the plane and everyone had seen and touched it," Bird reflected. "That's when I truly understood what the medal meant. You know what it means, you see it, you experience it, but it wasn't until something like that happened when I truly realized, 'OK, this is pretty big.'"
This article is addressed to all those who teach, coach, and parent future Olympic hopefuls and inspire them to stay focused and appreciate the Olympic Spirit while cultivating physical education and competitive sport worldwide. We need to create a ripple effect in communicating positive role modeling. Undeniably, you have to be strong to medal in shot put and discus; however, you have to have a stronger spirit to do what Ewa and Piotr have done. Paraphrasing philosopher Elbert Hubbard’s: “God will not look you over for medals degrees or diplomas, but for scars.”  I would add … and good deeds for fellow humans in need.

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Submitted by Anonymous on

very interesting article! I am co0mpletly agree!

Norbert Müller
President Int. Pierre de Coubertin Committee

Submitted by kolaleh Beikchani on

I love when it comes to have a great and bright view. I love when people have charity and a great heart. Have that giving and caring attitude.
I had a student who made me think to be an Olympic coach one day sales, maybe I have to tell you what happend. This student worked hard and when I told her she can do it, she was always doing great. I have this dream to coach her for the Olympics one day, sometimes just
because of that student.I know that caring was important for me. For me it is that positive vibe you get when you do something greater.When your mind and spirit focuses on something greater than just one viewpoint.
I know that this article is addressed to all who teach and coach, I do teach, and I do not know if my kid wants to do Olympics, sometimes my kid talks about it,I hope we all could cultivate physical education worldwide. yes thats true human in need and not everything medals, if you have a human heart than we all need to act that way to have a big heart.
This article was nice, thank you very much, Happy Holiday.

Submitted by LJS on

The most precious medal is this act of love! There is a true Olympic Spirit and Olympic Solidarity at the Olympic games. You just do not see it on TV.

Submitted by Ioanna Galani on

Olympic spirit means selflessness!

While reading the article, I caught myself tearing up. I am an athlete and a coach, and I have never read an article that reflects the motivation and the spirit of the athletes better than this one! Olympic means one for all and all for one. This is the spirit that is behind every medal, selflessness, like Piotr Malachowski who fund children's cancer treatment along with others. Olympic spirit it is about spreading love and help all around the world. The athletes that are included in the article did that with the best possible way. I hope that people's hearts are filled with Olympic spirit everyday, because Olympic spirit has so many different humane meanings..

Submitted by Emily Hernandez on

Many people hold not only moneh value but emotional value to medals olympians win. This gesture that many are partaking in is showing that achievement should not be held on an inaninate object, but what can be done in the name of achievement. This act of kindness reflects beautifullyon the atheletes and also encourages others to do good withtheir achievement rather than to just pine in success. It raises awareness for so many people in need.

Submitted by Reena Mathunny on

I admire the gestures of the Olympians and their hard work. It is truly amazing. I am looking forward to the 2020 Japan Olympics

Submitted by Alex on

What a great example of an utmost love and self-devotion. Very touching. These athletes do know what's really important in the world.

Submitted by Sade on

Love this article I like the fact the people are willing to give up their medals to help others wow

Submitted by Markel Hawkins on

It's great to see these Olympians who are using their achievements to better other people. Great job on their part.

Submitted by Chris Mejia on

Amazing article that captivates the true nature of sportsmanship. If I were to ever win a medal I previously would've kept it to myself and family as a reminder but seeing how some Olympian go above and donate their medals is amazing. Truly a sign of ultimate Olympic spirit that we must all salute.

Submitted by Stephen Barnes on

I like how humble most of these Olympians are, the way Greg Louganis gave his medal to that boys mother after her lost is remarkable. It takes a lot of hard work to get one of those medals and these people are some of the best role models in history.

Submitted by Harold on

Fait ungeste charictatifdans une enceinte n'est pas offert a n'importe qui. Sa doit provenir du fond du coeur et de la volonte de soi. How could you be happy and your friend or neighbor doesn't. Dans se cas penser a soi est bien , but penser a soi et aux autres est plus meilleur encore.

Submitted by Flora on

I learned that people will forget what you said,people will forget what you did but people will never forget how you made dem feel. The olympians show a strong spirit of compassion towards the needy and they do not regard their trophies as gold or silver but rather use what they earned to help others.This is an epic trait and I admire this behaviour of solidarity

Submitted by Simon Chen on

These Olympians have worked their whole lives to be the best in their particular sport and it is just an honor to even participate in the Olympics. For them to win a medal, realizing their dreams, and then to use that medal for the well-being of others. This is truly inspiring and such a good deed.

Submitted by Jerold Lomotey on

When people see Olympics , they all they see is people running, swimming and throwing objects. Until recently, I also used to see Olympics that way. Though the events are a major part of it, we are blinded by it. As a people we forget what Olympics are truly about, what it was initially made for. Unity, Pride for one's country, History, Entertainment, Love and Positive global coordination.

Submitted by Yosef on

"For an athlete, to win an Olympic medal is a dream come true... however, fate has given me a chance to increase the value of my silver."

I think silver is overrated. Good deeds like this one is really where it's at. Not only does it help the receiver but it brings great joy to the giver as well—more joy then silver can ever bring. And those who realize that and experience the truth of it are truly fortunate. It's important to remember though that money creates oppurtunities like this. Money can be very valuble. I'd argue it can "buy" happiness. But it all depends on how it's used. Like anything valuable it can be used to achieve great ends or it can be corrupted.

Submitted by Meseret Worku on

It is a great idea. Olympics by it self to promote unity and good relations.

Submitted by Kristina Pierce- Wiggins on

This article reminds me that something that you may take for granted can change someone else's life. Who knew something that athletes probably just sit on a shelf to motivate them for the next go round could make a drastic life change for someone less fortune! This is empowering, and self-less, this is a movement of kindness and love!

Submitted by Adria Finney on

A truly commendable action on the parts of both Piotr and Ewa. This was actually something discussed this summer in my household, the value of these medals and how easily it could be put toward helping others instead of lying around somewhere collecting dust. But I also do not decry those who wish to keep these medals close, as a visual reminder of their hard work and accomplishments.

Submitted by Krzysztof G. on

Oboje dostarczyli nam wiele wzruszeń ze zdobytych medali Olimpijskich i Paraolimpijskich, ale pokazali nam wszystkim, że te medale mogą dać nie tylko radość innym, ale także szanse na zdrowie i za to wielkie podziękowania i szacunek (y) <3!

Submitted by Mehret Bedasso on

I believe the work of olympians is truly amazing. They are great examples of those who are ambitious, determined and passionate about what they do. Its inspiring to see an individual work so hard to achieve their goal and see them succeed.

Submitted by Lammesa Enke on

wow! what a fascinating exemplary work!. This article can inspires everybody to do what ever they can to help and save lives. Great job!

Submitted by Emily Shimizu on

It's very refreshing to see the image of an athlete being challenged by these Olympians great example. They haven't just worked hard to earn those medals but they also give back to humanity by displaying humble actions. Athletes have a tremendous following, especially Olympians, and by showing the world about caring and respecting one another; these Olympians have done a great service to humanity. They are examples of great role models. And they have also shown what the Olympic movement is all about.

Submitted by Alessandra on

I truly applaud these athletes, for they are not only great athletes, but also great human beings. Nowadays, a lot of professional athletes are more concern with fame and money, forgetting the principles of peace and humanity that was once involved with the Olympics back in the day. By raising funds to save a human life, these athletes showed their selflessness and dignity. In addition, they contributed to a better society by leading by example.

Submitted by Frank McGaha on

This story to me shows the highest traits of ones character. Here you have these to incredible Olympic athletes who have trained relentlessly for the chance to win Olympic medals then to donate them for another benefit. Looking at this article inspires me to want to do more and share any and all accomplishments in hopes to help another person. Seeing acts like this restores ones faith in humanity knowing that amazing people like this are selfless. You look at the awe that surrounds an Olympic medal and its hard to image someone just giving it away, but when its used to benefit young children fight against horrible diseases you just can't help but support these athletes.

Submitted by Rob C on

Seeing this reminds me of my old rowing medals from high school. I had one bronze and one gold, but the gold was just paint I'm sure. I can't auction off shoddy medals for big bucks and do anything like this but it's inspiring to see someone with a real gold medal turn their achievement into a saved life. I hope the story of these two athletes inspires others to do similar things, even if not related to sports or the Olympics. Great article, thanks for sharing.

Submitted by Joel Alexis on

After reading this article I was very moved by 2 olympians selfless efforts. It is by this action that they will be the foundation of many future fundraising events by the olympic committee. The olympics is the largest world wide organization that brings the world together and it is through this we hope to have more peace in the world. The two olympians are setting the bar high for expectancies of how olympians are to conduct themselves. The olympics represents the the world coming together for a greater cause because although it is an individual selected by their country competing for the prize, it is by the peaceful ability to host and collaborate such an event which make the olympics to great.

Submitted by Anne-Laure Kouame on

This goes beyond sportsmanship, it not only shows another side to Olympians and their belief of piece and kindness to all, but it also reminds people what it means to be a good human being. The acts of these two Olympians sends a great message and influence to not only other Olympians but to every human beings. Such acts sends a message that if Olympians who've worked for years to achieve the things they have and worked so hard to win such medals and are willing to give that medal up to save the lives of a child, then anyone who is willing doesn't need to win a medal to save a life and that anyone can make a difference.

Submitted by Sarah Bell on

It is beautiful to see the selflessness of these two athletes. They used their metals that are an honor to win in the games to fund children cancer treatments. This shows that they are not only great athletes but great human beings as well. While others may let their metals tarnish, collect dust, or get lost, these two are using them to help save lives. They are an inspiration to all future athletes.

Submitted by Lammesa Enke on

Wow!, what a fascinating exemplary work! These athletes do know what's really important in the world. This Article can inspire everybody to do everything they can to help and save lives. Specially what the Paralympics athlete Ewan Durska did is very heart touching. While living with disability, she worked hard to win and become a medalist. Instead of using it, she prefer to help the other people who are in a very hard situation and can't able to help themselves. very heart touching. God bless these hero athletes. They became a great example for each of us and showed us what we have to do in the rest of our lives.

Submitted by Melanie Amaya on

What a heroic thing to do on both Olympians Piotr and Ewa. This is living proof that humanity must respect and love one another. Piotr and Ewa are role models to everyone showing great manners of care, respect, equality, and friendship. These two Olympians are great athletes but strive even more to be greater human beings in general. When there is peaceful behavior towards global peace we help others and become peaceful together!

Submitted by Marcos Solloso on

Awesome read! It is very interesting to see Olympians working so hard earning these metals and to have them alone is very valuable but to use it to help others is priceless. They are a great role models for others to follow with their selflessness.

Submitted by Melissa Flores on

These are true examples of the power of humanity. These Olympians aren’t just inspiring success stories but they are role models to follow. They have shown how it’s not all about the medals they can win but the use you put your medals to afterwards. After putting in so much hard work to earn their medals these Olympians still put the same amount of effort to make a difference in humanity. I complete agree with this article.

Submitted by Sarah Jansepar on

This article by far, was one of the most interesting and inspiring articles that I have ever read. The selflessness of the two Olympians who used their achievement towards helping and saving other’s lives, makes them very unique and respectable. Not many people are willing to give out their precious gold and silver models that they worked very hard for to help out others. And the fact that these Olympians were more than willing to do that, makes them not only very unrivaled, but also some of the best role models in the history who I personally admire the most.

Submitted by Niloufar on

Wow! This is an amazing article. It makes me feel and believe that humanity still exists around the world. It requires a lot of greatness and selflessness to donate a medal that one earns in the Olympics. I believe what Ewa and Piotr did can be a great inspiration for everyone; not only athletes, but everyone can be influenced and inspired to donate in such ways, because people might forget what one said or did to them, but they will never forget how one made them feel. Therefore, by investing money in this way, lives are saved and this is something that one cannot forget about. I believe by seeing such examples, we can still be hopeful that in today's world, where many bad incidents take place everyday, such things are lights at the end of a dark tunnel. I hope to hear such amazing stories more often!

Submitted by Lydia Abebe on

I really liked this article because it gives me hope when it comes to people capability to be selfless. These two people gave up their medals for the benefit of others, is something everyone should look up to. This good way to start a ripple effect for the young athletes, its a good example of compassion and selflessness. This shows that sports isn't always about breaking records but about doing something for others in need with the success you get. Once an olympian always an olympian so giving the medals to save other lives is very refreshing to see.

Submitted by ST on

This article shows how the Olympic spirt is still alive, and helping an another human in need is the greatest reward one can receive. These two athletes who prepared everyday for 4 years for their moment in the Olympics, selflessly auction off their medal to help desperate suffering children.

Submitted by Bruno Leon on

Being in the Olympics is a great thing to ever do! As i grew up, I always wanted to play sports and when the Olympics would come every four years I would watch and see the honed skills of those competing in them. I wanted to be like those Olympians winning medals one day..
But when I read about the actions of Malachowsk and Durska, I thought to myself and literally just said "That is going above and beyond."
That is heart warming and just selfless act to do. There are things in this world that needs to be shared with everyone. So even when people say they're losing fate in humanity, they can see these Olympians giving new hope to those who were losing it.

Submitted by Ornella Mbakop on

I am speeches and emotionally touched and inspired by what Piotr Malachowski and Ewa Durska did. Despite the fact that Ewa Durska is a handicap she still had the power to make a difference in someone's life. This is just another reason to prove that the sky is the limit.

Submitted by Deysi Morales on

I love how Piotr and Ewa took the action of giving their medals to help those who needs it. The charity done by Piotr and Ewa it's really significant because it portrays the true meaning of being an Olympian other than sweating and practicing long hours. After reading the article, I learned the true meaning of being an Olympian, a person who take the action to keep fighting for those who can't. I love the idea of putting those medals in used because it's time to spread kindness. There is nothing better to see happiness among children.

Submitted by Marlene Morales on

The hours and defication these athletes worked on were not only for their own benefit, they were more than that. Being able to not only take pride on an accomplishment but also share the happiness and funds with others in need is something not every athlete does. Many people look up to many olympian athletes because theyvalso have the dream to one day achieve what they have achieved. Because these champions are doing something great for society, many young athletes will look up to them and follow their footsteps. Its great to see another side of sports helping people in need. Hopefully one day every olympian will have the same mindset and will be able to help someone in need by raising funds.

Submitted by Regina Namanda on

This is such an amazing and very inspiring article.It shows that there are still generous people who are willing to sacrifice what would have been a "treasure" to some people in order to save a life.Piotr and polish demonstrated the true spirit of giving/sacrifice without expecting any rewards from whoever they helped. This definitely regards them as role models to many people.Also,through their generous deeds, young people learn that even the little things/sacrifices we make can change someone else's life hence putting a smile on their faces.

Submitted by Yasmin on

I think these olympians didn't think that they need a medal to show that they are actually winners. They found Happiness inside of them by helping others. They actually found their passion and goals in life that are more than having a shinny medal. They used their medal to help people and make them happy.

Submitted by Alex Levit on

I think it is great that they're taking the result of their hard work and putting it into a worthy cause in such a selfless way. They're showing the real Olympic spirit, and they're putting athletes on a more positive light. It is very nice that they're helping people from their same country, as it shows that they haven't forgotten about the people where they're from. They have chosen a very good cause to support, as childhood cancer is not often given the awareness it deserves. It is heartwarming that Ewa Durska supported the cause as well, considering that she has her own disability.

Submitted by Subhan Dowlati on

This truly is a very inspiring story, I hope that others will learn from its exposure, and be triumphant to do more of which these 2 amazing people have done for the world. I also thank you for those who have, but their stories have gone unheard.

Submitted by Michael H on

You often forget that Olympians are people just like you. They may be shattering world records and all but when it's all done we all return to our normal lives and continue on. I think it's pretty humbling. And to see that there are those who are willing to put themselves aside (disability or not) and do such an act of kindness is really awesome. Hope to be reading more stories like this soon!

Submitted by EMS on

They work so hard to win those medals, to be recognize as excellent athletes, but their heart and humbleness is above and beyond. They are amazing people whom have demonstrated that altruism still exists! There is still faith in humanity!

Submitted by Trung Le on

This article is very interesting to read. I really admire the heroic acts of these Olympians. Hard work comes with a price, and they sold that price they earned to help others in need. This shows that these Olympians are very passionate about love and kindness. I also believe in karma, and if you do good things such as this, good things will come. Helping others open a path to peace and respect in our society.

Submitted by Julian Pennello on

Every Summer and Winter games there are stories of incredible journey's some of these athletes went through to obtain their medals. However what equally incredulous is what happens off the stage either before or after. The games are a way of bringing people together now and less about money. What these two polish athletes accomplished after the Olympics is equally if not more inspiring and just an act of pure selflessness.


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