Israeli Olympic bronze medalist Yarden Gerbi has announced that she is auctioning the name patch she was wearing during her competition in Rio on August 9th to benefit the Children’s Oncology Department at Ichilov Hospital in Tel Aviv. She has already donated to that ward in the past in a similar auction after winning the World Championship in 2013.
The former judo world champion in the 63 kilogram division started an eBay auction on Tuesday, which will continue for five days until August 29.
“The very fact that she is doing this, and for the second time, is a testament to her character,” Rafi Agiv, Gerbi’s agent told Tazpit Press Service (TPS). “I hope that she raises even more money this time.”
That hope was quickly realized when the highest bid was already at USD 12,100 (over NIS 45,000) after just four hours, compared to USD 3,800 raised in the previous auction.
“All profit from this auction will be used as a donation for buying important medical equipment. I hope that together we will manage to raise a significant amount of money that will make this name patch much more special and meaningful to our society,” Gerbi wrote on the auction page.
The auction is open to people all around the world, and the highest bidder will receive the item, dedicated and signed by Gerbi. “If the winner of the back number is Israeli, I will gladly hand over the item personally,” she wrote on her Facebook page.
“Three years ago, when I won the World Championship, I auctioned the special back number I was awarded with the title of world champion,” added Gerbi in her Facebook post. “The winner was Tal Keidar, and together we managed to raise USD 3,800, all of which was donated to the children’s oncology ward of Ichilov hospital.”
Gerbi wrote that she had visited the ward in person and toured it with Professor Jacob Bickels, head of the Oncological Orthopedics Department at the Sourasky Medical Center. “I met amazing kids who are heroes, doing their best to fight and keep high spirits,” she wrote.
“I recently found out that Liran Or, a sweet and loving girl with whom I was in contact, had passed away,” explained Gerbi. “That’s the reason I decided to donate to the same ward.”
The Children’s Hemato-Oncology Department at Ichilov Hospital thanked Gerbi for her initiative, saying that the children were brought to tears by her gesture and had created a colorful sign and drawing in her honor. “Yarden, thank you for the strength you give us,” they said. “The same way you prevailed, so will we.”
“Yarden is proving that she is not only a champion on the mat, but also a true sportswoman with great generosity,” said Professor Ronni Gamzu, CEO of Ichilov Hospital. “The whole hospital thanks her very much for her consideration, and for the support and encouragement she gives to the children.”
Michael Zeff contributed to this article.