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Ryan White historical marker on the way in Hamilton County

August 30 dedication planned
Posted at 11:36 AM, Aug 05, 2019

INDIANAPOLIS—There are 660 official state historical markers across Indiana. On August 30, there will be one more, and Ryan White's name will be on it.

White and his efforts to raise national AIDS awareness will be commemorated with a marker on the grounds of Hamilton Heights Middle School in Hamilton County. The 9 a.m. ceremony at the school is open to the public, but those who plan to attend need to register at this website:

Casey Pfeiffer, the director of the state's historical marker program, says a group from the Hamilton Heights School Corporation area submitted an application for a marker which was approved.

In 1987, what is now the middle school was the Hamilton Heights High School building. White received a warm welcome at the school when he transferred there. That was not the case in Howard County.

In 1984, while living outside Kokomo, White contracted AIDS from a blood transfusion and was given just a few months to live. But when his health improved, White attempted to attend Western Middle School, only to be met with opposition from people who feared he would spread AIDS to students and staff. He eventually was able to spend one unhappy year at Western, before making the transfer to Hamilton Heights.

The teenager's health struggle and his fight against AIDS-related discrimination received worldwide attention and put White in touch with many celebrities, including Elton John, Michael Jackson and John Mellencamp.

White was just 18 when he died in 1990. Since then, his mother, Jeanne White Ginder, has been a national spokesperson for AIDS understanding and education. She is expected to attend the August 30 historical marker dedication.