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Just A Normal Kid: 10 Facts About Ryan White

Originally published in 2012.

Ryan White was an ordinary kid from Indiana, but his extraordinary bravery made a huge positive difference in the world. It has been over 20 years since his death but his legacy of understanding and immense courage still lives on.

Black and white photo of Ryan White

After he contracted HIV/AIDS from a hemophilia treatment in the 1980s, school officials refused to allow Ryan to return to school, for fear he’d pass the disease to other school children. This exclusion from school, along with the other bullying and poor treatment he faced, inspired Ryan to spend the rest of his life peacefully fighting discrimination and helping educate people on a disease they knew very little about at that time.

One of Ryan’s biggest goals was to live normally and help others with HIV/AIDS live normal lives, too. This was difficult at a time of great fear and miseducation about the disease, but Ryan proved to be right.

Here are 10 facts about Ryan’s life as a normal kid:

  • Ryan White was born in Kokomo, Ind., in 1971.
  • He liked to ride his bike, read comic books and watch movies.
  • Ryan collected G.I. Joe action figures.
  • He was an honors student at his middle school.
  • Ryan had a dog named Wally.
  • Ryan loved skateboarding.
  • After he turned 16, he got a part-time job at a skateboard shop called Maui Surf and Sport in Indianapolis.
  • Ryan got his driver’s license after his 16th birthday.
  • As a teen, he liked listening to pop music, especially Michael Jackson.
  • Ryan attended high school dances.

Sounds like just about any other kid, no?

Ryan’s story goes to show that even ordinary kids can help fight discrimination and prejudice and make the world a better place and that even those who have a disease or affliction we may not understand really just want to live their lives and have fun like other kids.

To discover more about Ryan and his positive impact on the world, be sure to visit The Power of Children® gallery at The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis.