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Greg Louganis puts Olympic medals for sale for charity, his next chapter

Greg Louganis

Olympic gold medalist diver Greg Louganis thanks the City-County Council in Indianapolis after it passed a resolution denouncing RFRA by a 24-4 vote at its meeting on Monday, March 30, 2015. Inidc5 6juy3lqk6w3t3eu3n75 Original

Charlie Nye / The Star, Charlie Nye / The Star, Indianapolis Star via Imagn Content Services, LLC

Greg Louganis, arguably the greatest and most famous diver in history, put his remaining Olympic medals up for sale as part of an auction to finance the next chapter of his life and to benefit charity.

Louganis, who swept the springboard and platform titles at the Olympics in 1984 and 1988, has a memorabilia auction on his website running to Dec. 4. The medals are listed separately “for private sale” with an option to make an offer. Louganis will see how the auction and offers unfold before determining how many, if any, of his medals he will part with.

The 62-year-old said friends have reached out to ask if everything is OK. He assured them that he’s fine.

Louganis, who previously gave two of his four Olympic gold medals to people close to him, never considered selling his other medals until recently giving it a lot of thought. He was partly inspired by the Marie Kondo book, “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up.”

“We collect, we collect, we collect, and then it serves its purpose, and then we let it go,” he said. "[The sale] is an opportunity for those medals to have a life beyond.

“A lot of times we hold things so preciously that it ends up you get strangled by it. Holding things with a light touch is another practice that I’m adapting.”

Louganis previously gave his 1984 Olympic platform gold medal to his coach, Ron O’Brien.

He gave his 1988 Olympic springboard gold medal, which he won after hitting his head on the board on a preliminary dive, to Jeanne White-Ginder. She is the mother of Ryan White, who became a national figure in the 1980s after developing AIDS from a blood transfusion to treat hemophilia. White successfully fought to attend public school after a middle school banned him. White died in 1990 at age 18. That medal has been on display as part of the Ryan White collection at the Indianapolis Children’s Museum.

Louganis revealed in the mid-1990s that he had been HIV positive at the time of the 1988 Seoul Games. He said White, whom he had met in 1986, was his inspiration to get through that springboard event after hitting his head and getting stitched up after bleeding into the pool.

Louganis’ medals for sale: his 1976 Olympic platform silver medal, won at age 16 in a duel with Italian legend Klaus Dibiasi. And his first and last Olympic gold medals from the springboard in 1984 and the platform in 1988.

Louganis said at least 10 percent of the proceeds from his auction and potential medal sales will go to non-profits -- the Damien Center, the largest AIDS care provider in Indiana, and Children’s Rights, which works to protect children and keep families together. The auction date range includes World AIDS Day on Dec. 1.

“Greg personally owning his HIV status has provided a beacon of hope to those living with it, proving that an HIV diagnosis does not mean that your life is over,” Damien Center President and CEO Alan Witchey said. “His work on HIV awareness and LGBTQ+ issues has empowered a generation to end the HIV epidemic.”

The money will also help him launch the GEL Dogjo, a health-and-wellness center for humans and dogs, and the Frances Louganis Foundation, named after his adoptive mom, which will support Olympians transitioning to life after the Games and a variety of causes including LGBTQ+, foster care and adoption, mental health and brain injuries and concussions.

Louganis plans to hand deliver any medal that he sells and offer to share stories over a meal.

People who have visited Louganis’ California house often ask if they can see his medals. His typical response has been, “If I can find them.” Usually they are packed in a bag, a drawer or in his garage.

“The medals, it’s in the history books,” he said. “They don’t define me. That’s just a part of who I am, but it’s not all of who I am.”

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