Why is One of the World’s Most Skilled Olympic Gymnasts Relying on GoFundMe for Medical Care?

By: Alec Donaldson | Last updated: Nov 13, 2023

Although she retired many years ago, Mary Lou Retton is still considered one of the most skilled Olympic gymnasts to ever compete.

However, now, at 55 years old, the gold medalist is asking for help from her loved ones and her fans to help pay her medical bills. But many are wondering why she needs financial assistance at all.

Who Is Mary Lou Retton?

Mary Lou Retton is a wildly famous gymnast who won a gold, two silver, and two bronze medals in the 1984 Olympics when she was only 16 years old.


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Retton was the first American woman in the history of the Olympics to be named all-around champion.

Retton Was the First Woman on the Wheaties Box

To understand just what a big deal Mary Lou Retton was in the world of sports, you should know that she was the first woman to ever be used on the front of the Wheaties cereal box!


Source: Bob Riha Jr./WireImage/Getty Images

And she was also endorsed by several other big name brands over the years such as Energizer, Purex, Hasbro, and McDonald’s.

Mary Lou Retton After Gymnastics

After she retired from the sport, Retton went on to star in movies and TV shows, and work as a motivational speaker.


Source: Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

She has also been a proud supporter of the Republican party and a member of USA Gymnastics, helping young gymnasts in their mission to become Olypians just as she was.

Retton’s Efforts to Support Women in the World of Gymnastics

Interestingly, Mary Lou also famously fought against the Protecting Young Victims from Sexual Abuse and Safe Sport Authorization Act of 2017.


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However, with the testimony of several young women against Dr. Larry Nassar, the legislation passed in 2018. Though after it passed, Retton essentially switched sides stating, “We were lied to. We were not presented with all of the information at all.”

Where Is Mary Lou Retton Now?

Even as one of the most famous gymnasts in the history of the sport, Mary Lou is no longer in the spotlight. However, her recent medical struggles have led her back to the headlines.

Source: SpotFund

Sadly, she is currently suffering from a rare and severe case of pneumonia, and as of October 11, 2023, Retton stopped being able to breathe on her own.


Retton’s Daughter Is Asking the World for Help

One of Mary Lou’s four daughters created a SpotFund page for her mother, explaining her ailments and asking anyone and everyone for help.

Source: SpotFund

Young Retton asked the world, “if you could help in any way, that 1) you PRAY! and 2) if you could help us with finances for the hospital bill.”


Mary Lou Retton’s Net Worth

As this story has been circulating through the media, the first question on many peoples’ minds is why the Olympic all-champion needs financial assistance at all.

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It’s important to understand that while the internet will say that Mary Lou’s net worth is an immense $2 million, that doesn’t necessarily mean she has millions to spend on medical bills.


Understanding Someone’s “Net Worth”

Net worth isn’t just cash in hand, it also includes assets such as one’s home and investments.

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It’s also important to note that Mary Lou recently divorced her long-time husband Shannon Kelley, which certainly could be affecting her cash flow.


Why Doesn’t Mary Lou Retton Have Medical Insurance?

Another question on many peoples’ minds is why the Olympian doesn’t have medical insurance to cover the costs of her hospital stay.

Source: Todd Warshaw/Pool/Allsport/Getty Images

However, as of now, no one really knows why she doesn’t have insurance. It could be due to financial difficulties, a policy lapse, or really any personal reasons. But the bottom line is that she can’t afford to pay her bills.


How Much Does Mary Lou Need?

When Retton’s daughter originally started the SpotFund me page, she explained that her mother needed $50,000 to pay her medical bills.

Source: FreePik

However, according to the page, they have raised an almost unbelievable $459,304 as of October 21, 2023. What the Rettons will do with the extra money has yet to be announced, though many assume that they will donate the majority of it.


Mary Lou Retton’s Story Pulls at America’s Heartstrings

Realistically, while Mary Lou’s story has made headlines, it is not unique. Millions of citizens in the United States are struggling to pay their healthcare bills.

Source: Bettmann/Getty Images

So while her situation is certainly pulling at America’s heartstrings, it’s also igniting an important conversation about the cost of healthcare throughout the country and how debilitating medical bills can be for absolutely anyone, even a famous Olympian.