(AP) — The family of Olympic gymnastics champion Mary Lou Retton says she is making “remarkable” progress in her battle with a rare form of pneumonia that landed her in intensive care.
McKenna Kelley, one of Retton’s four daughters, posted an update on Instagram Saturday that said the 55-year-old Retton’s breathing is becoming stronger and her “path to recovery is steadily progressing.”
“Though it’s a lengthy journey, witnessing these improvements is incredibly heartening,” Kelley wrote. “She’s beginning to respond to treatments.”
The family disclosed earlier this week that Retton — who became the first American female gymnast to win the Olympic all-around title at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics — was “fighting for her life” and unable to breathe on her own after being diagnosed with pneumonia.
Donations have poured into a fundraiser the family set up to help offset Retton’s medical expenses after the family said she didn’t have medical insurance. There have been more than 7,500 donations totaling over $415,000 by Saturday afternoon.
Retton was 16 when she became an icon of the U.S. Olympic movement during her gold medal-winning performance at the 1984 Summer Games. The native of Fairmont, West Virginia, also won two silver and two bronze medals at those Olympics to help bring gymnastics — a sport long dominated by Eastern European powers like Romania and the Soviet Union — into the mainstream in the U.S.
After her success on the world’s biggest stage, Retton appeared as herself in some television series and movies, including “Scrooged,” “Baywatch,” and “Knots Landing,” according to her IMDb page. Under President George W. Bush, she served on the President’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sports, in addition to several Olympic and gymnastics ambassador roles.
She is considered one of West Virginia’s most famous athletes of all time and has a road and park named after her in her hometown of Fairmont.