Ryan White
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His legacy
Ryan's Legacy  
White was one of a handful of highly-visible AIDS-victims in the 1980s and early 1990s, who helped change the public perception of the disease. White, along with actor Rock Hudson, was one of the earliest public faces of AIDS. Along with later public figures who became associated with HIV/AIDS, like the Ray brothers, Magic Johnson, Kimberly Bergalis and Freddie Mercury, White helped to increase public awareness that HIV/AIDS was a significant epidemic.

Numerous charities formed around White's death. The Indiana University Dance Marathon, started in 1991, raises money for the Riley Hospital for Children. Over the past 17 years, this event has helped raise over $5 million for children at Riley. The money raised has also helped found the Ryan White Infectious Disease Clinic at the hospital to take care of the nation's sickest children. White's personal physician, with whom he was close friends, Dr. Martin Kleiman, became the Ryan White Professor of AIDS Medicine at Indiana University School of Medicine in Indianapolis. In a 1993 interview, prominent gay rights and AIDS activist Larry Kramer said, "I think little Ryan White probably did more to change the face of this illness and to move people than anyone. And he continues to be a presence through his mom, Jeanne White. She has an incredibly moving presence as she speaks around the world."

In 1992, White's mother founded the national nonprofit Ryan White Foundation. The foundation worked to increase awareness of HIV/AIDS-related issues, with a focus on hemophiliacs like Ryan White, and on families caring for relatives with the disease. The foundation was active throughout the 1990s, with donations reaching $300,000 a year in 1997. Between 1997 and 2000, however, AIDS donations declined nationwide by 21%, and the Ryan White Foundation saw its donation level drop to $100,000 a year. In 2000, White's mother closed the foundation, and merged its remaining assets with AIDS Action, a larger charity. She became a spokeswoman for AIDS-action and continues to arrange speaking events through the site devoted to her son, Ryan White.com.

White's death inspired Elton John to create the Elton John AIDS Foundation. White also became the inspiration for a handful of popular songs. Elton John wrote "The Last Song" which appears on his album The One in Ryan's memory. Michael Jackson dedicated the song "Gone Too Soon" from his Dangerous album to White, as did '80s pop star Tiffany with the song "Here in My Heart" on her New Inside album.

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