Motivating Medalist

Union Gospel Mission brings renowned gymnast Mary Lou Retton to its Be Inspired Luncheon.

Since 1984, Mary Lou Retton has been an inspiration to aspiring gymnasts and the American public in general. That’s the year she won 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 did it by scoring a perfect 10 on the vault. Debby Brown, chair of the mission’s Be Inspired Luncheon, thinks she has scored a perfect 10 herself by bringing Retton to Fort Worth to speak at the Feb. 25 event in the Will Rogers Round Up Inn.

This is third of the luncheons. Previous ones featured Leigh Anne Tuohy, the central figure in the best-selling book The Blind Side and the subsequent movie, and Pam Tebow, mother of NFL quarterback Tim Tebow.
Brown has been a board member at the 125-year-old mission for 16 years and stresses that it is entirely supported by donations and local churches and accepts no government money.
“That is how we have kept the doors open for 125 years,” Brown said. “It’s on faith and it’s on people who love the Lord and want to give to help those less fortunate.”
Brown got the idea three years ago after hearing Tuohy speak at a YMCA fund-raiser in El Paso at the invitation of her sister.  On the plane home, she decided she wanted to bring Tuohy to Fort Worth and “ask 120 strong Christians to buy a table for $1,000, or to share a table or to ask nine friends each to pay $100. And we did it,” she said. They raised $85,000 that first year.
“The mission is all Christ-centered,” she said. People who come inside to eat must first attend a chapel service. “You can sleep during chapel. You can be totally drugged out. You can be drunk. But you’re going to be there,” she said. “It’s just part of our thing. They can get sandwiches outside on the street because we give away free peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. But if you are going to come in, you are going to follow the rules.”
She’s recruited Mary Alice Brumley and Cheryl Van Zandt to assist as co-chairs. They are hoping again for 120 tables of 10 and another $85,000.
Retton should fit in well. Her official website lists her favorite book as the Bible.