Ryan White, the HIV positive teenager who inspired the British musician to start a foundation, was commemorated by Elton John during a special AIDS gala hosted on Monday. The artist confessed that the young victim enabled him to overcome his personal addictions and find a method to give back to the community, the Associated Press reports.
Elton John was very close to Ryan White which is why he was deeply affected by the young boy’s death in 1990. White contracted the disease in 1984 during a blood transfusion for his hemophilia and was discriminated by the society until his death in 1990. The boy’s demise represented a major “turning point” in the life of the 65-year-old musician.
Six months after Ryan passed away, Elton decided to set things straight in his life. At that time, the British artist was “out of whack”, but after being sober for one year, he decided to contribute to the well-being of the society by setting up the AIDS foundation. Although people have come a long way since the 80s, John thinks there are many other things that need to be done to help change mentalities towards HIV positive patients.
The singer then recalled that as soon as Ryan publicly admitted he was suffering from AIDS, he was expelled from middle school and was forced to radically change his lifestyle. The boy’s image was later on used to represent the young patients who were afflicted with the disease. The only solution to prevent this type of behavior from people is to get HIV positive people to come out and behave as role models for the rest of the patients, according to Elton.
The Elton John AIDS Foundation was founded in 1992 with the attempt to raise money for a variety of HIV/AIDS services, such as prevention programs, campaigns and discrimination. Robert Kraft, Diana Jenkins, chairman, CEO and founder of beverage company Neuro, as well as devoted benefactor, Joseph Blount, received Enduring Vision awards from the British singer.