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Ryan White and Ashley Louise Crouse: An Inspiration to All

By: Ayaan Abbasi

Ryan White and Ashley Louise Crouse are names that have become synonymous with IU Dance Marathon. Their initials are printed on every piece of IUDM apparel, and their stories have provided inspiration to every IUDM member. 

Ryan White contracted HIV and AIDS in the 1980s and faced scrutiny both in his own town and in nationwide media due to his diagnosis. He fought for the rights of himself and all those faced with the disease, destigmatizing and increasing research for the conditions. He sadly passed away in 1990, and IU Dance Marathon was founded in his honor by his friend, Jill Stewart, the following year.

Ashley Louise Crouse was an IU Dance Marathon Executive Council member in 2005. Following an Exec Meeting, she passed away in a car accident on the way home. She is remembered as always striving to make the organization better, with her kindness motivating not only her fellow executive council members, but IU Dance Marathon as a whole, to fundraise and put their all into the organization.

Each year, they are memorialized through Ryan and Ashley Week, a week showcasing their legacies in and out of IU Dance Marathon. IUDM members get the opportunity to learn about their stories and the impact they made on everyone they interacted with.

Kyle Dietz, former IU Dance Marathon Executive Council member, said that this week “not only brings attention to two incredibly influential people, but provides additional support and outreach to the kids and families at Riley, which is ultimately what both Ryan and Ashley would want.”

The week began with a viewing of The Ryan White Story followed by a committee meeting later in the week where members of all IUDM committees had the opportunity to learn more about the lives that they led.

Members listened to speeches by those who knew both Ryan and Ashley, as well as read stories about the impact that they made on their community. 

The week concluded with the Angels Among Us Walk, intended to honor not only Ryan and Ashley, but all pediatric patients in the past, present, and future. IUDM members walked throughout campus beginning at the Arboretum, resembling a path that Ashley would have taken during her time at IU.

“Ashley and Ryan helped pave the way for more good to come from this organization, and they would be proud of the amazing accomplishments of IUDM,” Dietz said.

Ryan White and Ashley Louise Crouse continue to inspire every single member of IU Dance Marathon to live like them, and their legacy is something that will continue to be carried for years to come.

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