Olympian Publicly Thanks First Grader for Returning Stolen Gold Medal

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Chloe Smith is proof that being a Good Samaritan pays off. This summer, the 7-year-old from Atlanta earned an award after she found a stolen gold medal and returned it to its owner, Olympic champion Joe Jacobi. To thank Chloe, the Associated Press reports, the athlete recently paid a visit to her elementary school to publicly commend her good deed—and that was after giving her a $500 reward.

Jacobi, who’s now retired from competitive sports, won the men's whitewater canoe double slalom event at the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona, Spain. But in June in Atlanta, thieves broke into his car and made off with a backpack containing, among other items, his Olympic gold.

The pack’s contents were eventually discovered in a dumpster, and the medallion's base piece was found discarded along a stretch of road. But the award’s main portion was still missing, so Jacobi created a website, Stolen Gold Medal, to enlist the public’s help in his search. He also shared news of the theft on social media and promised an award to whoever turned the medal in.

About two weeks later, CBS46 reports, Chloe, who was then 6 years old, was taking a neighborhood walk with her dad. During her stroll, she spotted something unusual—and valuable—in a roadside trash heap: Jacobi’s medal.

The medal was missing its ribbon and base piece, but the remaining portion had Nike, the Greek goddess of victory, on it, and identified the year it was presented. Chloe’s father, Wayne Smith, had read about Jacobi’s stolen medal in the news, and he quickly put two and two together. "When she picked it up it just wowed me,” Smith told CBS46. “I had to look at it for 20 minutes before it sunk in.”

Chloe and her father contacted Jacobi through his website, the Times Free Press reports. The grateful Olympian thanked Chloe by traveling to Atlanta from his Tennessee home to personally give her a $500 reward. The sports star also promised he’d visit her school, Woodson Park Academy, once the academic year was back in session.

On Monday, August 29, Jacobi made good on his offer and swung by Chloe’s classroom. The Olympian brought along the recovered gold medal, and recounted the honest first grader's actions to her peers.

Jacobi used the incident as a chance to teach a lesson about moral integrity, WSB-TV 2 reports. “It’s the idea of choosing to do the right thing, and so Chloe, I thank you for good character and doing the right thing,” Jacobi told the class. “And to her parents and her family, I thank you guys."

[h/t Associated Press]

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