Olympic gymnastics star Mary Lou Retton has shared a touching Thanksgiving message saying she is “eternally grateful” for the support from friends, family and fans during her battle with a rare form of pneumonia.
In early October, the former athlete was left “fighting for her life” in the ICU and was unable to breathe on her own, her daughters announced in a social media post.
After weeks in the hospital, Ms Retton was discharged and continued to recover at home.
On Thursday – after being home for around a month – Ms Retton shared pictures on Instagram of herself with her four daughters, along with a message about the things she is thankful for.
“As we gather to celebrate this Thanksgiving, my heart is overflowing with profound gratitude. I want to express how truly blessed and thankful I am to be slowly improving and to be home with my girls, especially after my time in the hospital,” she wrote.
“The love and support of my four amazing daughters have been a source of strength and inspiration throughout my journey. Their presence in my life is a testament to the incredible bonds of family,” the post continued.
After a tough few months for the Olympic gold medallist, she said she is extra thankful this year for the support from her friends and family – and her recovery from pneumonia.
“My extended family, all of you, have shown me immeasurable kindness, offering prayers, encouragement, and unwavering support during my challenging times. Your love has been a beacon of hope in my life,” she wrote.
The message went on to thak her “Foxy family,” referring to performance wear brand Foxy’s, with whom she partnered with to create a leotard collection.
“Your friendship and support have been a constant source of comfort and joy,” she said about the company.
“On this day of giving thanks, I am reminded of the preciousness of life, the love that surrounds me, and the resilience of the human spirit,” Ms Retton wrote.
“Each one of you has played a significant role in my journey, and for that, I am eternally grateful.”
Two of her daughters, McKenna Kelly and Shayla Kelley Schrepfer, had been keeping the gymnast’s adoring fans up to date on her condition after she was admitted to hospital last month.
Days before the mother-of-four returned home, Ms Schrepfer revealed she had suffered a “scary setback” after making a lot of progress.
Eventually, Ms Retton was able to leave the hospital and wrote on Instagram a week later that she was continuing the “long and slow process” of recovery from her own home.
She said she hopes to eventually share the details of her illness to “help others who may face the same battle as me”.
During her hospital stay, the Olympian received an outpouring of donations from fans after Ms Kelley explained that she had no health insurance.
Set at a target of $50,000, her admirers surpassed this goal, raising almost half a million dollars for her treatment.
One of the highest donations came from American businessman Mattress Mack and his wife, Linda McIngvale, who donated $50,000, as well as $10,000 from American food processing company Tyson Foods, whom she collaborated with on her American Cookin cookbook.
Ms Retton was dubbed “America’s Sweetheart” after becoming the first American female gymnast to win the all-around Olympic gold medal in 1984 at the age of 16.
That year, she also won two bronze and two silver medals at the Olympic games.
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