AIDS victim Ryan White showed courage in the face of adversity and controversy.
Soon after learning he had contracted the incurable disease in December 1984, White was barred from his Indiana school near Kokomo, Ind., in 1985 and ostracized by many hometown classmates and their parents.
Through it all, he remained close to his family and projected a positive image to the very end of his life. He eventually was allowed to return to school in early 1986, after a year-long court battle.
The next school year, parental concern and panic subsided in the Kokomo area, and White's eighth grade studies at Western High School passed virtually without incident.
The Whites in early 1987 moved from Kokomo to Cicero, where students at nearby Hamilton Heights High School welcomed the youth and expressed little concern about being around a classmate with AIDS.
'What is so startling about Ryan (is) he doesn't say much, but he doesn't quit,' Ron Colby, White's principal at Western Middle School near Kokomo, said in 1986 soon after the teenager was allowed back in the classroom. 'I never, ever have had one doubt that he would want to back off.'
White was one of the first students in the country to be banned from school for having acquired immune deficiency syndrome, a disease that robs the body's immune system of its ability to fight off infections and diseases.
The media covered closely the plight of the teenager and his family, who became the center of controversy in Kokomo as the disease progressed and opposition to his presence in school increased.
White, at age 13, contracted AIDS through a tainted blood-clotting agent used to treat his hemophilia.
The Whites filed a $2 million lawsuit in March 1985 against Hyland Therapeutics Division of Baxter Travenol Laboratories, a California-based pharmaceutical company that supplied the AIDS-tainted clotting agent called Hemofil.
Nine months later, a federal judge dismissed the suit, saying the company was immune from such action.
On July 30, 1985, Western Schools Corp. Superintendent J.O. Smith officially barred White from attending Western Middle School near Kokomo, saying the health risk for other children was too great.
'With all the things we do and don't know about AIDS, I just decided not to do it,' Smith said. 'There are a lot of unknowns and uncertainties, and then you have the fear that would generate among classmates.'
White said he was 'pretty upset about it' adding, 'I'll miss my friends mostly.'
His mother, Jeanne White, said: 'He needs to be in a school atmosphere. I think the children would do him so much good. It's really robbing Ryan.'
With the boy and his mother present, the state Health Board on Aug. 3, 1985, set guidelines for admitting children with AIDS to school. Smith was urged to allow White to attend class as long as he did not become severely ill.
Smith still refused, and on Aug. 8 lawyers for the Whites filed suit in U.S. District Court in Indianapolis seeking to get White admitted to school. Four days later, parents of Kokomo school children signed 117 claim forms, threatening to file a civil suit if White was allowed in the classroom.
On Aug. 16, U.S. District Judge James Noland ruled in Indianapolis that White's lawyer must exhaust all state and local appeals before the case could be heard in federal court.
White and his mother attended the court session seeking an order permitting him to attend the opening of classes on Aug. 26, but when that day arrived the boy had to stay home, linked to school by a computer-telephone hookup.
White was admitted to the Riley Children's Hospital in Indianapolis on Sept. 2, 1985, for an ailment associated with a cold. He was released in good condition four days later.
White was readmitted to Riley Hospital on Sept. 25, 1985, with a respiratory infection and remained in the hospital until early November.
On Nov. 1, the state Education Department in Indianapolis heard testimony from lawyers representing the Whites and the school district. Hearing officer Kathleen Madinger Angelone ruled on Nov. 25 that White should be allowed to go to school except when bedridden, when he should receive appropriate schooling at home. The local school board later voted to appeal Angelone's ruling.
White passed his 14th birthday at home on Dec. 6, 1985, and said his goal for the coming year was to get back in school.
'The last year has been hectic,' his mother said. 'The hospital stays were rough, maybe the worst.'
On Feb. 6, 1986, a state Education Department appeals board ruled there was nothing to prevent him from attending classes if he received clearance from Dr. Alan J. Adler, the Howard County health officer. On Feb. 13, Adler certified White fit to return to school and medical officials worked with school officials on procedures for handling AIDS victims.
A week later, a Howard County judge refused a request by parents and students to sign an injunction preventing White from going to school.
White returned to WesternMiddle School on Feb. 21, but 151 of 360 students stayed home and seven transfered out. Judge Alan Brubaker later that day issued a temporary restraining order again barring White from the classroom.
The decision spoiled White's first day at school in more than a year. His mother said he had been so excited about returning that he could not sleep the night before.
'I woke up at 1:30 a.m. and he was still up,' she said. 'He had all his clothes picked out the day before and he was ready to go.'
Brubaker on March 17 granted a change of venue to Frankfort in Clinton County, where Judge Jack O'Neill had to decide whether to make permanent the Feb. 21 order.
The Indiana Civil Liberties Union on April 8 filed legal papers on White's behalf. On April 10, O'Neill lifted the restraining order and White leaped to his feet, hugged his tearful mother and immediately returned to class.
Colby, the principal, said, 'I don't see any reason why Ryan shouldn't be in school. I don't think he poses a threat to anyone.' But 27 of the 364 students were taken home by parents, who said they would appeal O'Neill's decision.
When White returned to class the next day, 53 students were absent, half attributed to White's presence, and four withdrew. White finished the remaining few weeks of the school year without incident.
In the late summer of 1986, White entered eighth grade at Western High School near Kokomo amid little fanfare. Protesting parents had conceded defeat.
After two more stays at Riley Hospital, White began taking the experimental AIDS drug AZT, or azidothymidine, in August 1987. During that summer the Whites moved from Kokomo to Cicero outside Indianapolis. The youth's mother said the family was trying to escape publicity in Kokomo.
White, feeling better from the AZT treatments, began classes at Hamilton Heights High School in Arcadia on Aug. 31. Many of his classmates welcomed him to the school, and some stopped to shake his hand in the hall.
Principal Anthony Cook said he was proud of the way the school and community had accepted White.
'Obviously some students were apprehensive, but there were no radical displays of any type,' he said. 'I'm just extremely proud of our community and our student body for treating him as such.'
In White's first day at Hamilton Heights, only two of the school's 615 students did not attend classes out of concern about AIDS, Cook said.
White was the subject of the ABC television movie 'The Ryan White Story,' which was broadcast on Jan. 16, 1989.
He appeared with Ronald and Nancy Reagan during a March 1990 event in Los Angeles during which the Ryan White National Program for AIDS Education was established by Athletes and Entertainers for Kids.