February 14, 2006 08:35 AM

Olympic speed skating winner Joey Cheek has put his gold medal where his mouth is.

The 500-meter American champion declared during a press interview about his victory that he was donating his entire $25,000 U.S. Olympic Committee bonus from the event to help children in the war-torn region of Darfur in Sudan.

“I wanted to make it meaningful,” said Cheek, 26, a former inline skater from Greensboro, N.C. “It’s empowering to think of someone else.”

He added, “I’ve been plotting this a little bit in my head.”

On Monday, Cheek skated the two best races of his life, with a combined time 0.65 seconds ahead of the silver medalist, Russia’s Dmitry Dorofeyev – considered an amazing margin in a furious sprint usually decided by hundredths of a second. South Korea’s Lee Kang Seok took the bronze, the Associated Press reports.

Cheek challenged his sponsors to match his donation. He plans to visit the Darfur region, where some 180,000 people have died and 2 million forced to flee in a bitter conflict, and see how his money is helping.

“I have been blessed with competing in the Olympics,” said Cheek, who recalled something his mother Chris told her two sons: “Not to have good intentions, but to do good things.”

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