Ryan White: A Gift That Touched The World
On December 6, 1971 a gift would be given to the world. That gift was Ryan Wayne White, who at the age of 13 would go on to be a poster child for HIV/AIDS across the nation and world. Ryan White did not just live to be a voice for HIV & AIDS. His life was about teaching the world that no matter what race, social economic status, or what disease you had, all people are created equal. Ryan White would spend the next 5 years of his life educating people across the nation and world about the AIDS virus after being diagnosed with the virus in December of 1984. Jeanne White-Ginder, who is Ryan White’s mother, stated that “people were amazed by Ryan’s spirit and his determination to educate and help people to understand what AIDS was all about.”
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 is an exhibit at the Children’s museum called “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 that 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 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 that 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 of Indianapolis brought her daughter who is 8 to the exhibit to hear Ryan’s mother speak. Clark, who wants to raise her daughter to be aware that all children are equal, was glad she came to the event that lasted for 45 minutes.
“I want to teach my daughter that everyone is the same, and that everybody deserves to be treated with respect because they are a human being just like her,” stated Clark.
Ryan White’s life has been an encouragement to others who have had 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. Ryan’s life has continued to touch people who are just now learning about HIV/AIDS. His life will continue to be a gift to those who knew him and to those who are just discovering who he is. To learn more about Ryan White please visit http://www.ryanwhite.com.