Greg with Damien Center CEO, Alan Witchey

December 2022

The Who, What and Why

Greg is continuing efforts to support the Damien Center’s One Home Capital Campaign initiative for a sorely needed new building. To that end, he is offering for sale these 3 Olympic medals to support the fund

1976 Silver, Platform (1st Olympic Medal)

1984 Gold, Springboard (1st Gold)

1988 Gold, Platform (Last Gold)

More specifically, he would like to name 2 different areas of the new building. One for his mother, Frances Louganis, and the other for his dear friend, Ryan White. “The medals, they’re in the history books,” Greg said. “Instead of holding on to them, I’m aiming to share my piece of Olympic history with collectors; together, we can help the Damien Center and its community to grow and thrive.”

Additionally, he is donating a sculpture of White to The Damien Center. Created by artist Bill Mack, “Hope” was a limited-edition series; Mack gave one sculpture each to Louganis, Elton John, Elizabeth Taylor and Michael Jackson. “The day we unveil the Welcome Center to honor Ryan White, my friend, will mark one of the most important milestones in my life,” Louganis said.

Make everywhere you go better because you were there

Greg’s biological parents were young, unmarried teenagers. When his biological mother became pregnant with him, she was “sent away” to San Diego where she was forced to give Greg up for adoption. He spent the first nine months of his life in foster care, before that would happen though.

“When Peter and Frances adopted me,” says Greg. “That really changed my life.” Peter and Frances Louganis, unable to have biological children, adopted a daughter and then Louganis. They gave their children love, discipline and plenty of opportunities for fun through dance, acrobatics, gymnastics and diving. Truth be told, the extracurriculars were really in hopes of wearing young Greg out so he wouldn’t disturb his father once he got home from work.

Though his mother and father were open with him about his adoption, unanswered questions about his birth parents, as well as a number of other concerns, led to a tumultuous childhood for the future five-time Olympic medalist.

But as Greg grew older, he developed a close bond with Frances. “We would spend a lot of time in the kitchen together,” he says. Through Greg’s life Frances dropped several pearls of wisdom during these kitchen sessions. The one Greg shares often, and lives by, is her firmest lesson about life: Make everywhere you go better because you were there.

In 2004, Greg lost Frances to lung cancer. Although she’s gone, her words remain in Greg’s heart, Through this fundraising for The Damien Center, Greg hopes to live up to those words and share a bit more of Frances with The Damien Center visitors and the world.

Greg & Frances Louganis

Book signing for Breaking The Surface

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Greg & Ryan White

What would Ryan do?

Greg and Ryan White became friends when Greg was in Indianapolis for a diving competition. After that, as a sign of their friendship, Greg gave Ryan some of his diving medals. When Greg competed in the preliminaries for the 1988 Olympics in Seoul, South Korea, he hit his head on the board and was injured with a concussion and had to receive stitches.

At the time, the public didn’t know that Greg and Ryan had something in common—both were HIV-positive. The accident scared people and Greg thought about calling it quits. He said later that he wondered what Ryan would do in that situation. He decided that Ryan wouldn’t give up, and that helped Greg find the strength to continue. He went on to complete the best dive of the competition, and to win the gold medal the next day.

After Ryan died, Greg gave his Olympic gold medal to Ryan’s mother, Jeanne, and it is now part of the display about Ryan at the Children’s Museum of Indianapolis. In April 2015, Greg visited The Power of Children exhibit with Jeanne to see his medal in Ryan’s recreated room.

He said then, “The thing I’ll always remember about Ryan is his courage, strength, and sense of humor…The way Ryan lived his life continues to give me the strength and courage to do things I might not otherwise feel comfortable doing.”

Excerpt from the Children’s Museum of Indianapolis website