The Precipitous Fall of an Olympic Figure Skater

She's broke, unemployed, and begging fans for help
By Michael Harthorne,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 7, 2015 12:29 PM CST
Former figure skater Debi Thomas asks fans for donations in a GoFundMe video.   (YouTube)

(Newser) – Debi Thomas is living in a bug-infested trailer in the Appalachian Mountains, broke and unemployed, the Huffington Post reports. But it wasn't always like this. Three decades ago, Thomas was a champion figure skater. She won both the US and World Championships and became the first African-American athlete to medal at the Winter Olympics. After her figure-skating career ended, she became a certified orthopedic surgeon. Then things changed. She says two failed marriages cost her her nest egg, and she had to close her private practice after only two years. She also lost custody of her 13-year-old son.

Now the 48-year-old Thomas is stuck in a mobile home with her fiancé, who has issues with anger and alcohol; his two sons; and a swarm of bedbugs, the Huffington Post reports. According to the New York Daily News, Thomas was reduced to begging fans for money through a GoFundMe page set up 10 months ago. "What we need now is help keeping our heads above water until we can make our dreams a reality," she states in a video on the page. One of those dreams: a reality show. But she and her fiancé raised less than a quarter of the hoped-for $10,000. Instead, Thomas has worked with a life coach for the reality TV series Iyanla: Fix My Life on OWN, the Huffington Post reports. (This athlete gave up her spot at the Olympics to her twin sister.)

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