Mary Lou Retton's Daughter Begs For Help As The Gymnast Battles For Her Life In The ICU Without Insurance

Retton's family is asking for donations that will go toward her medical expenses.

mary lou retton Kayz Arts, agsandrew / Getty Images via Canva; neftali / Shutterstock; Tony Barnard / Los Angeles Times via Wikimedia Commons

U.S. gymnastics legend Mary Lou Retton is reportedly "fighting for her life" as she has spent the last week in the ICU. The news came from Retton's daughter, McKenna Kelley, who posted on her Instagram story urging everyone to keep her mother in their prayers as her health hangs in the balance.

The family of Olympic gold medalist Mary Lou Retton shared that she is battling a serious health issue.

According to Kelley, Retton has been in the ICU for "over a week now" as she battles a "rare form" of pneumonia. Kelley added that her mother “is not able to breathe on her own."


Retton, 55, won five medals at the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles, including a gold medal in the individual all-around competition — the first in history by an American woman. However, her health is deteriorating, and Kelley has urged anyone who is willing to help her mother.

"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 stressed. While she didn't disclose any other details, she did reveal that Retton doesn't have any health insurance.



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Retton has had an impressive career, which makes this news that much more heartbreaking. On top of winning five medals, Retton also received two perfect 10 scores in the floor and vault categories just weeks after receiving an operation on her knee. 

Unfortunately, Retton's grand and astonishing career doesn't save her from the fact that, just like many other Americans, she is without health insurance. 

Millions of Americans in this country are subjected to living without health insurance.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, a report found that 8.4% or 27.6 million Americans of all ages did not have health insurance in 2022 compared to 10.3% or 33.2 million in 2019. In the same time period, 4.2% or 3 million children did not have health insurance compared with 5.1% or 3.7 million in 2019.

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Mary Lou Retton's health crisis serves as a poignant reminder of the urgent need for affordable healthcare in the United States. The lack of health insurance, even for an Olympic champion, illustrates the pervasive nature of the issue.

People shouldn't have to ever fight tooth and nail just for comprehensive healthcare, and should be a fundamental right for all citizens, no matter their socioeconomic backgrounds or, in Retton's case, Olympic achievements. 

Kelley's plea for support, including fundraising through Spotfund, has extended beyond prayers, revealing the harsh reality that has led to many Americans outright having to refuse medical treatment for illnesses or even mental health services because they can't afford these treatments.

As we hear the heartbreaking news about Retton, and keep her in our thoughts and prayers, may we also let it ignite a collective empathy for others trying to navigate the intricate web of healthcare without adequate support.


At the end of the day, this is no longer just a story about an Olympic champion in distress, and as we stand with her family now, hopefully, this serves as a reminder that the healthcare system should never be about leaving any one person behind to suffer.

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Nia Tipton is a Chicago-based entertainment, news, and lifestyle writer whose work delves into modern-day issues and experiences.