by Leslie Farin
Olympic gold medalist Mary Lou Retton, age 55, is “fighting for her life,” according to her daughter McKenna Kelley. She is in ICU in a hospital in Texas battling a rare form of pneumonia and is unable to breathe on her own. Details of Retton’s illness were not disclosed out of respect for her privacy.
Fundraising Campaign for Mary Lou Retton
Last week, Kelley asked for both prayers and donations for her ailing mother on Instagram. She wrote that her mother, who became the first American woman ever to win the individual all-around gold medal at the Olympics in 1984, has no health insurance.
In her fundraising campaign, titled, “Mary Lou Retton’s Fight” created on Spotfund to raise money for medical bills, Kelley wrote:
Hey everyone! On behalf of my sisters and I, we need y’all’s help.
My amazing mom, Mary Lou, has a very rare form of pneumonia and is fighting for her life. She is not able to breathe on her own. She’s been in the ICU for over a week now. Out of respect for her and her privacy, I will not disclose all details. However, I will disclose that she is not insured.
We ask that if you could help in any way, that 1) you PRAY! and 2) if you could help us with finances for the hospital bill.
ANYTHING, absolutely anything, would be so helpful for my family and my mom. Thank y’all so very much!
The campaign already raised over $246,000, nearly five times the original goal of $50,000. That money came from 4,286 individual donors, including one who donated $50,000, and there were almost 1,000 shares of the fundraising page thus far.
Who Is Mary Lou Retton? Highlights of Her Career
Mary Lou Retton, the former American gymnast, is best known for her outstanding achievements in the sport. Here are some highlights of her career:
1984 Summer Olympics
Mary Lou Retton’s most iconic moment came at the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles. She became the first American woman to win the all-around gymnastics gold medal. She scored a perfect 10 on her final vault, securing her victory in the all-around competition.
Gold Medal in Vault
At the 1984 Olympics, Retton also won the gold medal in the vault event, further solidifying her status as one of the greatest gymnasts of her time.
Silver and Bronze Medals
In addition to her gold medals, Retton also won silver in the team competition and bronze in the floor exercise at the 1984 Olympics.
Retton’s success at the 1984 Olympics catapulted her to fame, and she became one of the first gymnasts to secure numerous lucrative endorsement deals, making her a well-known figure beyond the world of gymnastics.
Induction into the International Gymnastics Hall of Fame
In 1997, Mary Lou Retton was inducted into the International Gymnastics Hall of Fame in recognition of her outstanding contributions to the sport.
Influence on American Gymnastics
Retton’s victory at the 1984 Olympics is often credited with inspiring a new generation of American gymnasts and raising the sport’s popularity in the United States.
After her gymnastics career, Mary Lou Retton remained involved in various charitable and promotional activities. She also pursued a career in television, including working as a commentator. In addition, she made appearances on various TV shows, including “The Jeffersons” and “Knots Landing.” She also participated in reality TV shows like “Dancing with the Stars” and “The Biggest Loser.” (Read health update from “Dancing with the Stars” partner Sasha Farber HERE.)
Mary Lou Retton’s achievements in gymnastics and her influence on the sport in the United States left a lasting legacy, and she is widely regarded as one of the most celebrated gymnasts in American history.
Little Known Facts About Mary Lou Retton
While Mary Lou Retton is a well-known figure in the world of gymnastics, there are still some lesser-known facts about her.
Early Challenges: Retton had to overcome numerous challenges and injuries early in her gymnastics career. She broke her wrist and tore her cartilage, which made her uncertain about continuing in gymnastics. However, her resilience and determination ultimately led her to Olympic success.
Italian Heritage: Mary Lou Retton comes from Italian heritage, and her full name is Mary Lou Retton Kelley. She mentioned that she was proud of her Italian roots and even visited Italy to explore her family’s heritage.
First American Woman to Win All-Around Gold: While most know Retton as the first American woman to win the all-around gymnastics gold at the Olympics, it’s not as widely known that she shared this historic moment with Julianne McNamara. McNamara won the gold in the rhythmic gymnastics all-around event in the same Olympics.
Retired After 1984 Olympics: Many people are not aware that Mary Lou Retton retired from competitive gymnastics immediately after her gold medal-winning performance at the 1984 Olympics. She was just 16 years old at the time of her retirement.
Family and Children: After she retired from gymnastics, Retton married former American football player Shannon Kelley in 1990. The couple has four daughters together: Shayla, McKenna, Skyla, and Emma.
Entrepreneurial Ventures: In addition to her gymnastics and television career, Retton participated in various entrepreneurial ventures, including owning a health and fitness center. She also authored books and created workout videos.
How to Donate to Help Pay for Mary Lou Retton’s Medical Expenses
If you can donate to help pay for Mary Lou Retton’s medical expenses, you can do so HERE. The family appreciates any amount, large or small. In addition, please keep this lovely woman in your thoughts and prayers.
Photo source (top image): Tony Barnard, Los Angeles Times, CC BY 4.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0>, via Wikimedia Commons
Photo source (middle image): Photo source: Series: Reagan White House Photographs, 1/20/1981 – 1/20/1989 Collection: White House Photographic Collection, 1/20/1981 – 1/20/1989, President Ronald Reagan with Mary Lou Retton and the 1984 United States Olympic team, marked as public domain, more details on Wikimedia Commons
Photo source (bottom image): U.S. Health and Human Services. No specific photo credit is given by the source., Retton-m, marked as public domain, details on Wikimedia Commons