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Children’s Museum of Indianapolis Honors Ryan White With an Exhibit

This week, I took part in an extraordinary event to honor the late Ryan White.

At a young age Ryan became the most famous person in the world infected with AIDS, a little known disease at the time. He was the catalyst of educating our nation on the facts of the disease, and helped alleviate much of stigma associated with the AIDS as inflicting only those in the homosexual community.

The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis (TCM) opened an exhibit to honor Ryan’s legacy.  “The Power of Children: Making a Difference”, follows three ordinary children who became icons of their perspective times because they strived to rise above those who sought to deny them from being what they each most wanted to be, children. If you have not experienced the museum or the exhibit, you must do yourself the favor and go.  I, along with my children, can be found wandering this national treasure several times a month.  It is simply amazing!

The idea of the exhibit was conceived when Ryan’s mother Jeanne, contacted TCM to ask if they would be interested in some of Ryan’s personal belongings.  At the initial meeting, Jeanne suggest they take his bedroom if they were interested.  No joke! Ryan’s entire bedroom now rests inside TCM for all to wander. As you stroll through, you gain insight into Ryan’s interest and feel like you have traveled back to the mid/late 1980’s.

As a parent, I am in awe of Ryan’s mother, Jeanne.  For a single mother of two, her tenacity, courage, resilience, calm, thoughtfulness, and love are still evident for a boy she lost 20 years ago.  If ever a museum is built to honor amazing mothers of the world, she should be one of the first inducted.

After a few words at the museum, the evening moved to Clowes Memorial Hall of Butler University.  An hour of remarks and reflection began with a Ryan White Monologue performed by TCM’s actor Fred Zanto, remarks by the President and CEO of The Children’s Museum Jeff Patchen, talk show host and producer Phil Donahue, actress Judith Light, video messages from politicians Nancy Pelosi and Orrin Hatch, Jeanne White-Grinder (Ryan’s mother) and Sir Elton John.

Afterward, Sir Elton John, played an intimate solo performance at the piano. Between songs he continued to speak of Ryan, and how he was responsible for making him get sober (20 years) and and grow into a better person. Needless to say, his performance was passionate and full of emotion!

I am ashamed to admit, we have only two, Sir Elton John albums. The show was so fantastic, I now want to own his entire music catalogue. Thirty years from now, my children may roll their eyes each time they hear Sir Elton John’s music play…but they will have the memory of me telling them of this magical day honoring a wonderful boy who changed and educated a nation. Of course, there was also the music.

Special thanks to:

* Josh and the Clowes Memorial Hall staff
* Chris, Alex, Scott, David, and those who’s names I have forgotten of Sir Elton John’s staff
* Leigh-Anne, Chad, and all the staff at The Children’s Museum of

*Any use of these images is strictly prohibited
**© 2010 Nathaniel Edmunds Photography, LLC