Mary Lou Retton, who captured the attention of the nation when she won the all-around women’s gymnastics competition at the 1984 Summer Olympics, has been “fighting for her life” in a hospital, according to her daughter.
However, McKenna Kelley, Retton’s daughter, offered an encouraging update on Saturday saying her mother’s health is improving.
“Mom’s progress is truly remarkable. Prayers have been felt and are being answered,” Kelley wrote in an Instagram post along with a praying hands emoji. “Although she remains in ICU her path to recovery is steadily progressing. Her fighting spirit is truly shining!”
On Tuesday, Kelley revealed that her mother has been in an ICU “over a week” with a “very rare form” of pneumonia. Since then, financial support has poured in as Retton “continues to fight.”
As of Saturday morning, a fundraiser page for the legendary Olympian had received more than $419,000 in donations. The crowdfunding campaign to help with Retton’s medical bills initially had a goal of $50,000.
The Spotfund page also noted that Retton does not have health insurance.
“GET WELL MARY LOU!! You are America’s Sweet Heart and we are all rooting for you!” one donor wrote on the fundraising page.
Retton is receiving treatment at a Texas hospital, according to The Associated Press.
Kelley also mentioned that Retton is becoming less dependent on machines.
“Her breathing is becoming stronger, and her reliance on machines is diminishing. Though it’s a lengthy journey, witnessing these improvements is incredibly heartening! She’s beginning to respond to treatments,” Kelley noted on Saturday in a social media post.
Retton’s win at the 1984 Olympic Games in Los Angeles marked the first time an American woman won the all-around gold medal or any individual Olympic medal in gymnastics.
She appeared in several films and television shows in the 1980s and 1990s and was inducted into the International Gymnastics Hall of Fame in 1997.
After she retired from gymnastics, Retton became a motivational speaker and frequently shared messages about the benefits of proper nutrition and exercise. She also served on the President’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sports under former President George W. Bush.