Fundraiser for Olympian Mary Lou Retton exceeds goal as she’s ‘fighting for her life’ in ICU

(NEW YORK) — A fundraising effort for Mary Lou Retton, the American gymnast who became a sports icon when she won Olympic gold in 1984, has reached its goal as she continues to battle a very rare form of pneumonia,” according to her daughter.

Retton, 55, has been hospitalized in the intensive care unit for over one week and is “not able to breathe on her own,” Retton’s daughter, McKenna Kelley, shared on Instagram this week.

Kelley, one of Retton’s four daughters and a gymnast who competed for Louisiana State University, linked to a fundraising page for her mom, whom she said 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,” Kelley wrote on the fundraising page. “ANYTHING, absolutely anything, would be so helpful for my family and my mom.”

As of Wednesday afternoon, the page had exceeded its stated $50,000 goal and had raised more than $258,000, and counting.

Kelley did not share further details on her mother’s condition or the health battle she is facing, writing, “Out of respect for her and her privacy, I will not disclose all details.”

Pneumonia is an infection that causes the air sacs of the lungs to fill with fluid, according to the National Institutes of Health.

“Although it was stated that this is a rare form of pneumonia, pneumonia is one of the most common reasons patients get admitted to the hospital,” said Dr. Darien Sutton, an emergency physician and ABC News medical correspondent, who is not involved in Retton’s care. “Someone isn’t able to breathe on their own or isn’t able to get enough oxygen and requires additional care that it increases their level of risk and the level of care that they’re needing in the hospital.”

He continued of Retton, “Given that it’s reported that she’s needing assistance with breathing, that likely means that she’s going to need a higher level of care. And of course, with additional level of care or a high level of acuity, that brings additional costs.”

Retton is most famous for her performance in the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics, where she scored a series of perfect 10s to become the first-ever American to win an Olympic individual all-round gold, according to her official Olympics biography.

Retton also won two additional silver medals and two bronze medals at the Los Angeles Olympics, making her the most decorated athlete of that Olympics, according to her bio.

Retton has remained an iconic American sports hero in the decades since and was inducted into the International Gymnastics Hall of Fame in 1997.

In 2018, Retton competed on season 27 of ABC’s dancing competition show Dancing with the Stars.

“This has been the time of my life,” Retton said after she and her pro partner, Sasha Farber, were the fifth couple to get eliminated from the competition. “I hadn’t challenged myself in decades and now I challenged myself. I’m off to a fresh new start.”

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