Elton John has raised an astounding $2 million to benefit the AIDS foundation he established in 1992.
A large part of the inspiration behind the charity came from the singer’s friendship with Ryan White, a teenager who contracted AIDS in 1984 following a blood transfusion. White was shunned from his community and expelled from school. His family received physical and emotional threats, including frightening acts of vandalism at their home. The courageous teenager’s plight with the disease and society’s reaction to it helped change the stigma associated with those who contract AIDS. He was an essential figure in the movement, and John was with White when he succumbed to the disease in 1990. As he explained, “Six months after Ryan died, I decided that was it.” He continued by saying that it was his goal to start “giving something back and making up for lost time.”
John added, “The stigma involved in people coming out and saying they’re HIV-positive is still an underground thing, it’s still a shame-based thing until we can get everybody tested and people to come out and be role models to people who have HIV, then we’re still battling against this disease.”