TAMPA —- The first woman to be on a box of Wheaties, tiny Mary Lou Retton, overcame tremendous odds to win America's first Olympic Gold Medal in gymnastics in 1984.
Cheering a highlight reel as if it were a live performance, 800 guests rose to the familiar Olympic Fanfare theme song at the Girl Scouts of West Central Florida's annual Women of Distinction luncheon Tuesday.
"I like watching it, too," said the 4-foot-9 gymnast who took home gold in the individual all-around. "I look so big when it's projected on a big screen."
Retton won five medals in the 1984 Olympics, the most of any athlete that year, adding a silver for team and vault and a bronze for uneven bars and floor exercise to her gold medal.
The Girl Scouts honored four "distinctive" champions of medicine, business, law and education; an Under-40 Woman of Promise and inducted a longtime volunteer into its Hall of Fame. A Brownie or Scout escorted each of them to the stage in the tent Pavilion at the Bryan Glazer Family Jewish Community Center.
"Don't let other people put limits on you," said Retton, 49, "the little kid from a small coal mining town in West Virginia" who chanced to meet the "King of Gymnastics, Bella Karoly."
The first gymnast and youngest inductee into the USOC Olympic Hall of Fame recalled knee surgery followed by "manic rehab" just six weeks prior to the Olympics.
Now she's a mother of four girls and a gymnastics mom. Her second oldest daughter, McKenna Kelley, helped LSU to the Southeastern Conference Championship title last weekend.
Girls Scouts CEO Jessica Muroff said the luncheon will help the organization to reach championship fundraising totals. The agency's best-attended lunch raised $130,000 to serve nearly 20,000 girls and nearly 8,500 adult members in Citrus, Hernando, Hillsborough, Marion, Pasco, Pinellas, Polk and Sumter counties