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After a near-death experience last year, U.S. Olympic great Mary Lou Retton and her family are now coming under fire after refusing to disclose how they are spending the large amount of public donations they received.
Retton, 55, was hospitalized with a rare form of pneumonia in Oct. 2023 after being found lying on her bedroom floor, struggling to breathe, by a neighbour.
She was admitted to the ICU and her four daughters feared for the worst – even saying their goodbyes – before Retton made her recovery from the illness.
One of Retton’s daughters, McKenna Kelley, posted on Instagram at the time of her mother’s illness about the hospitalization while also asking for public donations on the site SpotFund.
“Please help my mom continue to fight,” Kelley wrote at the time. “Out of respect for her and her privacy, I will not disclose all details. However, I will disclose that she 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.”
The account raised a whopping $459,324 US, but now the family is refusing to say what the money has and will be spent on.
The family also would not reveal how much their mother’s final medical bill was and if they plan on donating some of the remaining money to charity.
USA Today’s Christine Brennan revealed earlier this month the staggering amount that the crowdsourcing request had brought in, with Retton’s daughters admitting they did not expect to receive as much.
During an interview with Brennan, Kelley claimed that her mom was left without health insurance due to pre-existing conditions, including “over 30 orthopedic surgeries, including four hip replacements. She’s in chronic pain every day.”
Retton’s 2018 divorce and the loss of income through public-speaking engagements due to COVID-19 were also given as reasons for her inability to pay for treatment.
Retton was released from hospital on Oct. 23, but her daughter said that they’re taking the recovery process day by day.
“You don’t get to see the light at the end of the tunnel,” she said. “So it’s a day-by-day recovery period.”
Retton is an Olympic hero in the U.S. after becoming the first American woman to win the all-around gold at the 1984 Olympic Games.
How the public looks at her after this controversy may dim that opinion, though.
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