Olympian Debi Thomas Breaks Down: I Lost My Entire Nest Egg
By Raphael Chestang
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A world champion in 1986 and a bronze Olympic medalist in 1988, Dr. Debi Thomas was once one of the most successful and influential ice skaters in U.S. history, but today she's struggling financially.
"Over the past few years, a complex set of events and circumstances has put me, my fiancé [Jamie Looney] and our family in serious financial dire straits," Dr. Thomas, now 48, says in her GoFundMe video on YouTube.
Her GoFundMe page says the cause has been developed as an "emergency fund" for her family with the aim of restoring "financial stability after severe sudden financial losses over the past couple of years associated with a combination of financially crippling life challenges."
In her heyday, Dr. Thomas made history as the first African-American to win a medal in any sport in the winter Olympics. When she joined the Ice Capades in 1988, ET followed her professional career. At the time, she still had the world at her feet.
"It's working out real well," she told us back then. "I'm trying to mix it with school."
After her golden years as an Olympic darling, Dr. Thomas went on to graduate from Stanford and become an orthopedic surgeon. But when she shifted from working in a hospital to private practice, her world fell apart.
"After only two years of private practice, while also going through a divorce, I managed to lose my entire nest egg," Dr. Thomas says in the video.
On Nov. 7, Dr. Thomas will be featured on OWN's Iyanla: Fix My Life, where spiritual coach Iyanla Vanzant confronts Dr. Thomas about her struggles.
"Her hard truths are that there is possibly some mental and emotional imbalances that have never been addressed," Vanzant tells ET.
Vanzant believes that the possible imbalances might stem from her bronze medal performance at the Calgary Olympics in 1988.
"In her program, she stumbled, but in her mind she fell," Vanzant says. "And I think that stumble is where she dropped out and didn't believe that she had a chance to win."
Click here to visit Dr. Thomas' GoFundMe campaign. According to the page, assistance will help cover projects including Coal Country - A Diamond in the Rough, "a cause for socioeconomic rehabilitation of the coal mining communities of the Appalachian mountain regions," and Can We Go Nowhere Any Faster?, a reality TV show.