Skip to main content

A Boy Who Sparked a Movement: The Story of Ryan White

Ryan White was a typical 13-year-old when he contracted HIV/AIDS from a contaminated blood transfusion. Ryan’s battle was much larger than just against his disease, as he was denied the ability to go to school, hang out with his friends and live a relatively normal life because of a fearful and misinformed community.

Ryan quickly became a national face for HIV/AIDS and throughout his own struggles with the disease and public misconceptions, Ryan spoke out. He combated bigotry with calls for compassion and appeared at schools and fundraisers across the country.

On April 8, 1990, Ryan lost his battle to the disease, months before he was to attend Indiana University. In an effort to keep his memory and spirit alive, his friend Jill Stewart started Indiana University Dance Marathon in 1991. And from there, a movement was born.

Thirty years later, Indiana University Dance Marathon fully funds The Ryan White Center for Pediatric Infectious Disease and Global Health, at Riley Hospital for Children in Indianapolis, Indiana. Those more than 400 Dance Marathon programs, scattered across the U.S. and Canada and inspired by Ryan White’s legacy, aim to improve the health of all children and allow them the opportunity to reach their full potential, ultimately improving our communities for years to come.

Miracle Network Dance Marathon is a student-led, year-round philanthropic movement, uniting students at over 400 colleges, universities, and high schools across the United States and Canada. As a fundraising program, each campus’s Miracle Network Dance Marathon organization works throughout the year to raise funds and awareness to change kids’ health and change the future for their Children’s Miracle Network Hospital. Since 1991, over $300M has been raised by Miracle Network Dance Marathon programs. 


Miracle Network Dance Marathon is a program of Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals (CMN Hospitals). CMN Hospitals raises funds for 170 children’s hospitals that support the health of 10 million kids each year across the U.S. and Canada. Donations go to local hospitals to fund critical life-saving treatments and healthcare services, along with innovative research, vital pediatric medical equipment, child life services that put kids’  and families’ minds at ease during difficult hospital stays, and financial assistance for families who could not otherwise afford these health services. When we improve the health of all children and allow them the opportunity to reach their full potential, we also improve our communities for years to come.