Ryan White was the teenaged hemophiliac who contacted AIDS through a blood transfusion, then was barred from attending school in Kokomo, Indiana. All but ostracized by the community, Ryan's mother (Judith Light) engages the services of a high-powered attorney (George C. Scott) to win back her son's basic rights. While the film ends with Ryan triumphing over his human adversaries, no effort is made to sugarcoat the situation. Even after he has been welcomed by another school, we see how the boy is shunned by certain students and their parents; nor is there any glossing over the fact that Ryan's days are numbered, despite the boy's enthusiastic plans for the time he has left (young White died shortly after this TV movie was first telecast in 1989). Despite its inherent sadness, The Ryan White Story is a celebration of an exceptional young human being whose short life touched so many others in a positive, uplifting manner. While Lukas Haas portrays the title character, the real Ryan White appears in the small role of Chad, another hemophiliac AIDS victim.
by Hal Erickson synopsis