The Gift of Ryan Wayne White
On December 6, 1971, a gift would be given to the world. That gift was Ryan Wayne White. At the age of 13, White became a poster child for HIV/AIDS across the world. White did not just a voice, his life was about teaching the world that we are all people are created equal. White spent 5 years of his life educating people across the nation about the AIDS virus after being diagnosed with the virus in December 1984. “People were amazed by Ryan’s spirit and his determination to educate and help people to understand what AIDS was all about,” Jeanne White-Ginder, White’s mother, stated
This April marks 28 years after the passing of Ryan White. I remember meeting Ryan’s mom a few years back when she was on hand at the Indianapolis Children’s Museum to speak about his life and legacy. There was an exhibit at the Children’s Museum, The Power of Children: Making a Difference, with a display of Ryan’s room the way it was while he was living. His mom wanted to make sure people knew who he was by donating his items to the Indianapolis Children’s Museum.
“I had left Ryan’s room the way it was after he died. We were in the process of moving to Florida from Cicero, Indiana, and I didn’t want to leave all of Ryan’s things in a box. Officials from the Children’s Museum came to Cicero to see the room and loved it. They wanted to make sure that children got a chance to see who Ryan White was as a person while he was living,” stated White-Gardner.
Even though Ryan has been gone for almost 30 years, his mother has continued to keep his legacy alive by speaking about his life across the world. In 2013, President Obama reauthorized the Ryan White Care Act, which is geared toward helping people who are living with HIV/AIDS that don’t have health insurance. People across the world have learned about HIV/AIDS through Ryan’s story. Students are learning about his life through book reports they’ve done for class, the exhibit at the Children’s Museum, and concerned parents who want to educate their children about issues that matter in the world. Kiesha Clark from Indianapolis, IN brought her daughter to hear Ryan’s mother speak. Clark was glad she came to educate her daughter about these issues. “I want to teach my daughter that everyone is the same and that they deserve to be treated with respect,” stated Clark.
Ryan Wayne White’s life has been an encouragement to others who have to live with the disease. In a recent ESPN special, Magic Johnson shared how Ryan’s story touched his life when he discovered he had contracted HIV. White’s life has continued to touch people who are learning about HIV/AIDS. His life will continue to be a gift to those who knew him and to those who are discovering his legacy. If you would like to learn more about Ryan White, please visit http://www.ryanwhite.com.