IUDM was established to memorialize the courageous life and efforts of Ryan White.
Ryan White was a typical 13-year-old when he was diagnosed with AIDS which he contracted through contaminated blood products he had been given for his hemophilia. When this news became more public, his school district in Kokomo, Indiana, denied him the right to return to classes. The ensuing court battles made headlines all over the country because Ryan had to fight not only the school district, but the fearful, misinformed community.
Ryan won the right to return to school, but this battle with the community and the disease itself had just begun. The White's struggled through many traumatic experiences at the hand of the people in the community. The family dealt with the fear and anger of these people on a daily basis hoping that eventually things would return to normal. However, after a bullet was fired into the White home, the family moved to Cicero, Indiana, where they found peace.
Throughout his own struggles with the disease and public misconceptions, Ryan spoke out. He combated those misconceptions and called for compassionate treatment of all AIDS sufferers. He appeared at schools and fundraisers across the country and testified before the President's Commission on AIDS. National Celebrities such as Michael Jackson and Elton John became his friends and offered their support.
After a courageous struggle, Ryan White died on April 8, 1990, the spring before he had planned to attend Indiana University. His fight to help those afflicted with infectious diseases is continued, in part, by the Indiana University Dance Marathon Council. In memory of Ryan's life and work, the annual Dance Marathon benefits Riley Hospital for Children in Indianapolis and established the Ryan White Infectious Disease Center.