Ryan White

by Alexandra from Columbus


“An extraordinary young man; brave, tolerant, and wise beyond his years.” These are the words of Ted Koppel describing Ryan White. What does a hero mean to you? Everyone has their own definition. To me, a hero is someone who is faced with obstacles and stays optimistic. A hero is a person you look up to and idolize. Everyone looks up to someone different - an athlete, musician, or maybe a neighbor battling cancer. Ryan White is my hero. He is the definition of courage.

Ryan was born in Kokomo, Indiana, on December 6, 1971. Unfortunately, the medical issues started when he was just 3 days old. Ryan was diagnosed with a disease called hemophilia. To treat his hemophilia, Ryan regularly received blood transfusions. Through the transfusions, he contracted the rare disease of acquired immunodeficiency syndrome commonly known as AIDS. AIDS is a disease of the human immune system caused by the human immunodeficiency virus. It reduces the effectiveness of the immune system and leaves individuals open to infections and tumors. Ryan was diagnosed with AIDS at the age of 13 and was told he only had 6 more months to live. Since he didn’t have much time left, he decided to live his last days normally by going to school and participating in his day to day activities.

Because of Ryan’s disease, people bullied, taunted and discriminated against him. Teachers, parents, and students didn’t want him near them in fear they would catch the life-threatening disease. Ryan just wanted o live a regular life and be at school. He became interested in speaking about his experience and fought the school’s decision. Eventually, Ryan returned to his classes. While speaking, he caught the media’s attention. Ryan appeared on numerous television shows and magazines. Through the media, more people became more educated about his and life and about AIDS. After much time with the disease, Ryan’s family started to struggle financially. They had trouble paying the medical expenses. Soon after, a movie about Ryan’s life came out. Fortunately, the family had enough money to purchase a larger house in a new community - Cicero, Indiana. In Cicero, people accepted Ryan and were educated about his disease. Ryan died on Palm Sunday, April 18, 1990, and only lived to be 18 years old.

Ryan White was diagnosed with a disease no one knew much information about. Instead of complaining, he spoke about his experience and educated many. When diagnosed with AIDS, he was told he only had 6 months left; he lived 6 more years. Ryan taught me to be courageous, live every moment to its fullest, and look on the bright side of situations.

In conclusion, Ryan inspired millions. He was a role model to people from every culture, race, and religion. Also, Ryan was looked up to by people of all ages even though he was just a child. There is now a Ryan White CARE Act, which is a program who funds services for hundreds of thousands for people with HIV/AIDS. Also, there is a Ryan White Youth conference which brings together young people to be educated about the disease. Ryan was the most influential person to speak about AIDS. Ryan White exemplifies all the characteristics of a true hero.

Page created on 4/2/2010 12:00:00 AM

Last edited 7/10/2020 5:19:11 AM

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