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Newspaper feature on local student helps adopted sister find him

WORTHINGTON -- Somewhere out there, Ryan White knew he had a sister.

Someday, he intended to find her.

But she found him first, thanks to two articles that were published in the Daily Globe.

Ryan, a student at District 518's Area Learning Center, was one of several students featured in an October 2005 article about the school's online newspaper, The Insider. Ryan was also the subject of a Daily Globe People feature on Feb. 18, one in a series of three that profiled ALC students.

Through a relative, those articles were forwarded to Betty Levens, adoptive mother of Sara, Ryan's sister. Levens contacted the Daily Globe via e-mail at the end of February.

"My name is Betty, and I live in California," Levens wrote. "My sister lives in Minnesota and sent me the article on Ryan White. We are related by my daughter, (who) is Ryan's sister. We adopted her when she was born almost 17 years ago. It was an open adoption.

"As we read your article on Ryan, my husband and I looked at each other and said they are so much alike, it is unreal, since they haven't even talked with each other. They both know of each other. My daughter would like to correspond with Ryan by e-mail and if you could ask him if he has an e-mail address, so Sara could talk with him, I would appreciate it."

The e-mail was forwarded to Rick Knapp, principal at the ALC, who broached the topic with Ryan.

He walked up to me and said, 'Do you have a sister? Do you know where she lives?'" Ryan related. "I was planning to go find her eventually."

In the last few months, Ryan and Sara have corresponded via e-mail, sharing their life stories and getting to know each other. They also exchanged school photos. Ryan sees a physical resemblance, but isn't so sure their personalities are alike, since they've never even talked on the telephone.

"She's almost the complete opposite," he said. "She's an athlete, an honor student -- nothing like me. ... Whenever we get around to it, we'll e-mail each other. It's just stuff like how's life been and what have we missed."

Ryan graduated Thursday from the ALC and has enlisted in the U.S. Army. He leaves July 17 for basic training at Fort Sill, Okla.

"I'm going to do artillery," he explained. "I'll get to blow stuff up 13 miles away, launch 200 pounds of TNT out of a cannon."

With aspirations of pursuing further training in a medical field and maybe one day becoming a medical doctor, Ryan intends to be in the Army for the long haul. And for the moment, his military obligations will keep him from meeting his sister in person.

"I told her I was going to come find her," Ryan stated. "I don't know when, but I will."

Beth Rickers

Beth Rickers is the veteran in the newspaper staff with 25 years as the Daily Globe's Features Editor. Interests include cooking, traveling and beer tasting and making with her home-brewing husband, Bryan. She writes an Area Voices blog called Lagniappe, which is a Creole term that means "a little something extra." It can be found at http://lagniappe.areavoices.com/.  

(507) 376-7327
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