Ryan White’s letters to go on display

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind.- Next week will mark 27 years since Ryan White died. The teenager from Kokomo, who suffered from hemophilia, gained international attention when he contracted the AIDS virus from a contaminated blood transfusion.

Now a new project between Ryan’s mother, Jeanne White Ginder,  and the Children’s Museum of Indianapolis, will give people a unique look at the battle Ryan fought against his illness.

When White was diagnosed with AIDS, he was ostracized by much the community in Kokomo. It finally took a court order for him to be allowed to attend school there before his family finally moved to Cicero. Up until he died, White received thousands of letters of support from across the world.  Soon, the letters will be available for anyone to see and study.

White Ginder still remembers the mail her son would get every day.

“I think that was the highlight of Ryan’s day, for quite a while,” said White Ginder.

Even after White died on April 8, 1990, the letters continued to arrive. Now, his mom has more than 6,000 of them saved.

“Most of Ryan’s mail was from kids,” said White Ginder.

Soon, those letters will be seen by anyone who wants to look at them. Each one is being scanned, documented and transcribed in Indianapolis, to be loaded into a massive digital archive.

“His whole life has amazed me so in every process and this is another process where he can reach kids and he’s still kind of alive,” said White Ginder.

The goal is simple: to give any curious mind the chance to look at the aids epidemic from the perspective of children. The project director says currently no similar archive exists.

Ryan white would have been 46 this year, and part of this project might involve you. The Children’s Museum is looking for anyone who wrote or received a letter from Ryan White to get in touch with them. You can start by sending an email with your contact information to connect@childrensmuseum.org.

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