Mary Lou Retton, the first American woman to win the all-around gold medal in gymnastics at the 1984 Olympics, is currently in the intensive care unit of a Texas hospital, fighting for her life. According to her daughter McKenna Kelley, Retton has a very rare form of pneumonia and is not able to breathe on her own. She has been in the ICU for over a week now.
Kelley did not disclose the specific details of her mother’s condition, but said that it was “very serious and life-threatening”. She also revealed that Retton, who is 55 years old, does not have health insurance and that the family had to start a crowdfunding campaign to help cover the hospital bill.
A Shocking Revelation
The news of Retton’s illness and lack of insurance has sparked alarm and outrage among sports fans and the general public. Many wondered how a legendary athlete like Retton, who earned millions from endorsement deals and appearances over the years, could be uninsured. Some speculated that she might have lost coverage or was unable to obtain it due to pre-existing conditions or high premiums.
Others questioned the state of the American health care system, where even a national icon like Retton could face financial ruin due to a medical emergency. They pointed out the irony of Retton being one of the faces of CVS Pharmacy, a drugstore chain that offers health insurance plans. They also criticized the lack of universal health care in the US, where nearly 30 million people are uninsured and 43 percent are underinsured.
A Generous Response
Despite the controversy and confusion surrounding Retton’s situation, many people have shown their support and compassion for her and her family. The crowdfunding campaign on Spotfund, which had an original goal of $50,000, has raised more than $250,000 as of Wednesday morning. Thousands of donors have left messages of encouragement and gratitude for Retton, who inspired generations of gymnasts and athletes with her achievements and charisma.
Retton’s former teammates and rivals have also expressed their solidarity and prayers for her recovery. Julianne McNamara, who won a gold medal with Retton in the team competition in 1984, said that she was “heartbroken” to hear about her friend’s condition. Nadia Comaneci, the Romanian gymnast who preceded Retton as the all-around champion in 1976 and 1980, said that she was “sending love” to Retton and her family.