The keynote address at this year’s gala was shared by Mary Lou Retton, America's gold medal legend. The first American woman to receive an Olympic gold medal in gymnastics, Retton also was the first American to win the Olympic All Around title.
Welcoming 620 guests, the gala achieved its fundraising goal of $750,000 to support endowed scholarships for nursing students. “We were thrilled Mary Lou Retton was our gala speaker,” said Janis Kovar, LHSON’s Director of Development. “She’s an incredible example of dedication to a goal, with an added bonus that her daughter attends Baylor.”
Retton catapulted to international fame by winning the All-Around Gold Medal in women’s gymnastics at the 1984 Olympic Games in Los Angeles, becoming the first American woman ever to win a gold medal in gymnastics. She also won silver medals for Team and Vault, and bronze medals for Uneven Bars and Floor Exercise. Her five medals were the most won by any athlete at the 1984 Olympics.
Other victories include being the only woman to win three American Cups (1983-85), the only American to win Japan’s prestigious Chunichi Cup (1983), two U.S. Gymnastics Federation American Classics (1983-84) and the All-Around title at both the 1984 National Championships and Olympic Trials. Retton retired from competitive gymnastics in 1986.
Today she continues to touch the lives of millions. A national sports survey found Retton to be the most popular athlete in America. She is in great demand as a motivational speaker and corporate spokesperson and also travels the world as a “Fitness Ambassador” promoting the benefits of proper nutrition and regular exercise. Retton serves as national chairperson and sits on the Board of Governors of the Children’s Miracle Network. She was a commentator for NBC at the 1988 Olympic Games and wrote a daily column for USA TODAY at the 1992 and 1996 Olympics. At the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta, Retton also served as an on-air reporter for Gannett Broadcasting’s NBC affiliates the largest NBC affiliate group in the United States. Retton also co-hosted the weekly television series Road to Olympic Gold.
A budding actress, Retton has appeared in the motion pictures Scrooged and Naked Gun 33 1/3. She has made appearances on numerous television shows including Guiding Light, Knots Landing and Dream On, and guest starred in one of the highest rated episodes of the series Baywatch. She is also author of Mary Lou Retton’s Gateways to Happiness: 7 Ways to a More Peaceful, More Accomplished, More Satisfying Life (April 2000).
Countless awards and honors have been bestowed on Retton including: 1984 Sports Illustrated Sportswoman of the Year; 1984 Associated Press Amateur Athlete of the Year; the first gymnast and the youngest inductee into the USOC Olympic Hall of Fame; the first woman to appear on the Wheaties Box and one of America’s Top Ten “Most Admired” public figures. In 1994, the U.S. Olympic Committee established the annual Mary Lou Retton Award for athletic excellence. In 1995, First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton presented Retton with The Flo Hyman Award in recognition of her spirit, dignity and commitment to excellence. Retton was selected a member of the official White House Delegation representing the president at both the 1992 and 1998 Olympic Games.
Retton and Shannon Kelley, were married on December 29, 1990 and have four girls, Shayla Rae, McKenna Lane, Skyla Brae and Emma Jean.
2014 Gala Mary Lou Retton Interview