Mary Lou Retton, the iconic gymnast who seized the nation’s admiration by clinching the all-around women’s gymnastics title at the 1984 Summer Olympics, is currently in an intensive care unit, according to a distressing update from her daughter McKenna Kelley on Wednesday.
“My sisters Skyla, Shayla, Emma and I would like to thank everyone for the outpouring of love and support for our Mom,” Kelley said. She further disclosed on Tuesday that her mother has been battling a “very rare form” of pneumonia in the ICU for “over a week.”
Public concern for Retton’s well-being has translated into tangible support. A fundraiser initiated for the legendary Olympian has amassed nearly $260,000 in donations by Wednesday afternoon, far surpassing its initial goal of $50,000. It’s worth noting that Retton currently lacks health insurance. Kelley, a former member of the LSU gymnastics team, highlighted the pressing need for these funds to cover mounting medical expenses. The Associated Press reports that Retton is undergoing treatment in a Texas-based hospital.
“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,” Kelley said. “ANYTHING, absolutely anything, would be so helpful for my family and my mom.”
A donor, expressing their support, commented, “GET WELL MARY LOU!! You are America’s Sweet Heart and we are all rooting for you!” This sentiment echoes the reverence the nation holds for Retton, who made history in 1984 in Los Angeles. Her victory was groundbreaking, marking the first instance an American woman secured the all-around gold medal or any individual Olympic medal in gymnastics.
Retton’s illustrious career extended beyond her athletic achievements. She graced several films and television shows during the 1980s and 1990s. Her contributions to the sport were recognized in 1997 when she was inducted into the International Gymnastics Hall of Fame.
Post her retirement from the sport, Retton transitioned into a motivational speaker role. She ardently advocated the merits of proper nutrition and exercise. Her expertise was further acknowledged when she was appointed to the President’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sports during the tenure of former President George W. Bush.
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