Best of the Internet
Today I Learned
Stories That Matter
About Us Contact Us Privacy Policy Terms of Use Accuracy & Fairness Corrections and Clarifications Ethics Code
© 2024 THEDAILYNET All rights reserved
tdn logo
tdn logo
THEDAILYNET.COM / BEST OF THE INTERNET

Here's Elton John's Letter For a 13-Year-Old Boy Who Died of AIDS That Struck a Chord With Fans

The pop star forged an unlikely friendship with the teen from Indiana and maintained their bond till the teen's last breath. 20 years after his death, John gave him a fitting tribute.
PUBLISHED MAY 31, 2024
Cover Image Source: Ryan White and Elton John (Photo by L. Cohen/WireImage)
Cover Image Source: Ryan White and Elton John (Photo by L. Cohen/WireImage)

Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome also known as AIDS is a sexually transmitted disease that has claimed countless lives. The HIV virus responsible for AIDS is also transmitted through sharing needles or syringes contaminated with infected blood. Although the stigma associated with AIDS is worse than the ailment itself, celebrities have played a significant role in raising awareness and dispelling myths.

Image Source: Ryan White, adolescent AIDS sufferer, whose ostracism at school brought a lot of positive attention to people w. AIDS. (Photo by Kim Komenich/Getty Images)
Image Source: Ryan White, adolescent AIDS sufferer, whose ostracism at school brought a lot of positive attention to people w. AIDS. (Photo by Kim Komenich/Getty Images)

A 13-year-old named Ryan White contracted AIDS during a uring a contaminated treatment for hemophilia in December 1984. The teen was given only 6 months to live and with a weakened immune system, as he also had to deal with hemophilia. According to Letters of Note, White tried to resume his school life but there was a lot of ignorance and misinformation AIDS made school officials reject a petition to let him in the classes.

Image source: Freshman Ryan White, 15, works on a math assignment at Hamilton Heights High School in Arcadia, Indiana, on his first day of the new school year. White, a hemophiliac, suffers from AIDS, which he contracted during surgery. Ryan has faced a lot of discrimination because of his contraction with AIDS, mainly because people are not properly educated on the disease. (Photo by Bettman / Getty Images)
Image source: Freshman Ryan White, 15, works on a math assignment at Hamilton Heights High School in Arcadia, Indiana, on his first day of the new school year. White, a hemophiliac, suffers from AIDS, which he contracted during surgery. Ryan has faced a lot of discrimination because of his contraction with AIDS, mainly because people are not properly educated on the disease. (Photo by Bettman / Getty Images)

However, White survived till April 9, 1990, when he eventually managed to resume his education, and media outlets covered his story extensively as the young boy became a beacon of hope for fellow AIDS patients. During his short life, he also caught the attention of pop star Elton John in 1985. White, who hailed from a small town in Indiana bonded with John and the duo maintained a steady friendship till White's death, per Ultimate Classic Rock. 20 years after White's demise, John wrote a letter dedicated to his friend, honoring his memory and recalling their time together.

Image Source: AIDS-afflicted teen Ryan White, hemophiliac who contracted virus through tainted blood transfusion. (Photo by Kim Komenich/Getty Images)
Image Source: AIDS-afflicted teen Ryan White, hemophiliac who contracted virus through tainted blood transfusion. (Photo by Kim Komenich/Getty Images)

"Dear Ryan," John wrote in his letter as shared on Letters of Note. "Twenty years ago this month, you died of AIDS. I would gladly give my fame and fortune if only I could have one more conversation with you, the friend who changed my life as well as the lives of millions living with HIV. Instead, I have written you this letter." According to his letter, White never blamed anyone for the illness and stigma that he endured.

Image source: Ryan White after his first day back in school after being allowed to return. He had been barred from school when it was discovered that he had AIDS.
Image source: Ryan White after his first day back in school after being allowed to return. He had been barred from school when it was discovered that he had AIDS. (Photo by Bettman / Getty Images)

"When students, parents and teachers in your community shunned you, threatened you and expelled you from school, you responded not with words of hate but with understanding beyond your years. You said they were simply afraid of what they did not know," John continued writing. He mentioned how the media heralded White as an innocent victim because he had contracted AIDS through a blood transfusion and White rejected the label, declaring that all Americans suffering from AIDS are innocent. He even used his stardom as an opportunity to educate the country about the epidemic.

Image Source: Fifteen-year-old Ryan White (foreground), who suffers from AIDS, looks over test being handed out his freshman math class at Hamilton Heights High School 8/31. White began school a week later than most of his classmates, because he needed certificate of health from local officials before he could attend.
Image Source: Fifteen-year-old Ryan White (foreground), who suffers from AIDS, looks over a test being handed out to his freshman math class at Hamilton Heights High School 8/31. White began school a week later than most of his classmates because he needed a certificate of health from local officials before he could attend. (Photo by Bettman / Getty Images)

John writes that if White was alive he would have been stunned to see how far the world has progressed and how their notion about the disease has changed. "Young boys and girls with HIV attend school and take medicine that allows them to lead normal lives. Children in America are seldom born with the virus, and they no longer contract it through transfusions. The insults and injustices you suffered are not tolerated by society," John wrote. "You were 18 when you died, and you would be 38 this year if only the current treatments existed when you were sick. Ryan, when you were alive, your story sparked a national conversation about AIDS."

Image source: Ryan white looks at his math book as he listens on phone connected to his class at school 8/26. His mother, Jeanna, looks on in the background, in Ryan's room at home. The Western Schools Corp. set up the system after barring Ryan from classroom because he suffers from AIDS. (Photo by Bettman / Getty Images)
Image source: Ryan white looks at his math book as he listens on phone connected to his class at school 8/26. His mother, Jeanna, looks on in the background, in Ryan's room at home. The Western Schools Corp. set up the system after barring Ryan from classroom because he suffers from AIDS. (Photo by Bettman / Getty Images)

However, John expressed his sadness over how the nation still stigmatized some people who contracted AIDS. "I know you would be loudly calling for the National HIV/AIDS Strategy that was promised by President Obama but has not yet been delivered. I know you would reach out to young people. I know you would work tirelessly to help everyone suffering from HIV, including those who live on the margins of society. It would sadden you that today, in certain parts of the United States, some poor people with AIDS are still placed on waiting lists to receive treatment," John added.

Image source: President Barack Obama signed it on October 30, 2009 in the Diplomatic Room of the White House in Washington, DC. The act is the largest federally funded program for people living with HIV/AIDS in the US and was named in honor of Ryan White, a teenager who contracted AIDS in 1984 and became a well-known advocate for AIDS research and awareness, until his death on April 8, 1990. (Photo by Aude Guerrucci-Pool/Getty Images)
Image source: President Barack Obama signed it on October 30, 2009 in the Diplomatic Room of the White House in Washington, DC. The act is the largest federally funded program for people living with HIV/AIDS in the US. (Photo by Aude Guerrucci-Pool/Getty Images)

Even though many people are receiving treatment in White's name, more than 200,000 don’t know their HIV-positive status, largely because the stigma surrounding the disease prevents them from being tested. "I was by your side when you died at Riley Hospital. You’ve been with me every day since. You inspired me to change my life and carry on your work. Because of you, I’m still in the struggle against AIDS, 20 years later. I pledge to not rest until we achieve the compassion for which you so bravely and beautifully fought," John concluded.

Image Source:  Elton John speaks during the special benefit concert celebrating the Life & Legacy of Ryan White at Clowes Memorial Hall on April 28, 2010 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Michael Hickey/WireImage)
Image Source: Elton John speaks during the special benefit concert celebrating the Life & Legacy of Ryan White at Clowes Memorial Hall on April 28, 2010 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Michael Hickey/WireImage)

The Ryan White CARE Act came into effect a few months after White's death and it still offers support and funds to people suffering from HIV/AIDS in the United States. John wanted to honor White's memories as well and he launched the Elton John AIDS Foundation in 1992. The foundation has raised millions of pounds to date to work towards removing the stigma faced by those suffering from this ailment.

Image Source: Jeanne White puts her hand on the body of her son Ryan just before visitation starts 4/11. At right is singer Elton John, a friend of the family. Ryan died of AIDS complications 4/8 at a local hospital. (Photo by Bettman/ Getty Images)
Image Source: Jeanne White puts her hand on the body of her son Ryan just before visitation starts 4/11. At right is singer Elton John, a friend of the family. Ryan died of AIDS complications 4/8 at a local hospital. (Photo by Bettman/ Getty Images)
POPULAR ON The Daily Net
MORE ON The Daily Net