White-Ginder to keynote LAAN's 25th anniversary

BTL staff


On Dec. 3, the Lansing Area AIDS Network will host their sixth Red Ribbon Gala and Auction Event, and this year they will be hosting a very special keynote speaker, Jeanne White-Ginder, the mother of Ryan White, a hemophiliac who contracted AIDS at a very young age through a contaminated blood product.

Residing in a town with little to no education on HIV/AIDS, Ryan was refused return to his school after news of his HIV status spread. What began as a court battle for Ryan and his mother quickly became international news in 1984, and soon White-Ginder became an icon for HIV/AIDS education. White-Ginder and her son's struggle is an inspiring story, one that has had a great impact in the U.S. In 1990 Senators Edward Kennedy and Orin Hatch worked with White-Ginder to pass the Ryan White Comprehensive AIDS Resource Care Act, which funded research and education on HIV/AIDS as well as medical assistance.

Unfortunately, Ryan passed away. However, through White-Ginder's 1997 publication "Weeding Out the Tears, A Mother's Story of Love, Loss and Renewal," as well as The Power of Children, an exhibit within Indianapolis Children's Museum, Ryan will not be forgotten.

This year LAAN's gala serves both to recognize World AIDS Day and to celebrate the 25th anniversary of LAAN's founding. The Red Ribbon Auction will include items from businesses, artisans and private donors of Central Michigan, in both silent and live auction format. All proceeds benefit and support the programs and services LAAN offers. In their 25 years, it is estimated that LAAN has provided care to 1,050 individuals with HIV and their families. They have also participated in countless preventive and education outreach programs in the state.

White-Ginder's presence at this year's gala is a key aspect of the celebration. "LAAN and AIDS Service Organizations like it would not exist without the support provided through the Ryan White Care Act which was last reauthorized with the Ryan White HIV/AIDS Treatment Extension Act of 2009," said Jacob Distel, executive director of LAAN. "It is the primary source of funding for the HIV care services provided to those individuals living with HIV. For that reason, as LAAN observes 25 years of service to the greater Lansing community, it is important that we remember Ryan White's legacy and his story as part of our collective history." And what better way to honor Ryan White's legacy than with White-Ginder as keynote speaker of the Red Ribbon Gala.

The event will begin at 6:30 p.m. at the Eagle Eye Golf Club on 15500 Chandler Road in Bath, Mich. Registration and the auction will begin 6:30 p.m., with White-Ginder speaking at 7:15 p.m. followed with dinner, and the live auction. Tickets are $100 and can be purchased by contacting Jacob Distel at 517-394-3719 (ext. 30), or Audrey Matisoff at 517-394-3719 (ext. 28). Tickets can also be purchased online at http://www.laanonline.org.

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