RYAN WHITE  December 6, 1971 to April 8, 1990  CICERO CEMETERY, CICERO, INDIANA




There was a time when AIDS was considered a "gay disease."  It was a dirty little secret that didn't pertain to "normal" people and was even looked at by some as a retribution for acts that were "unacceptable."  Even president Ronald Regan chose not to address the issue.  All of that changed in 1984 when a thirteen-year old boy from Kokomo, Indiana was diagnosed with AIDS.  Ryan White was a hemophiliac who contracted the virus through a tainted blood transfusion.  His was the face of a fresh, young, average boy - the face of innocence.  The stereotypes of an AIDS victim no longer fit.  What many would soon find out was that Ryan White was also a determined and courageous person who would not whither under the pressure of bigotry.  Ryan wanted only to be like everyone else and just live the life of any normal teenager.  AIDS knowledge, at the time, was limited and a misinformed public responded with panic.  Ryan White was barred from attending his school and his family was forced to file a lawsuit to allow him to return.


After an extended battle and world-wide outrage, he did return to his school but was forced to use a separate bathroom, a separate water fountain, and to eat alone.  Ryan also had to endure bigoted remarks often laced with homosexual slurs and fellow students who avoided any contact with him. A number of families removed their children from the school and started one of their own.  The situation grew much more dangerous for Ryan White and his family when a bullet was fired into their living room.  The Whites decided to move.  By this time there had been some advancement in public awareness of AIDS, much of it due to Ryan himself and the massive publicity that had swelled surrounding his story.  He had befriended celebrities like Elton John and Michael Jackson, and saw his life story come to television in "The Ryan White Story."  Cicero, Indiana was more accepting than Kokomo had been.  Ryan's life became somewhat normal in his new home.  He even attended numerous school functions and earned his learner's driving permit.   Initially the doctors had given him only six months to live, but he had lasted six years.  In his senior year, however, his health began to deteriorate rapidly.  Before Ryan White was able to graduate from his high school, he passed away.  Just months after his passing, Congress enacted The Ryan White Care Act. 

A gentle, soft-spoken boy had become a man with a voice heard around the world.  Ryan White didn't choose his fate, but he chose how to deal with it.  His grave marker is a great tribute to his life and is truly one of the most astonishing that the Death 2ur has had the honor to visit.  Today, nineteen years after his passing, his gravesite is still encircled with mementoes and tokens from those he inspires.











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