Purcellville’s personal Captain America can be seen handing out smiles all while bringing awareness to important non-profit organizations.
Ryan White’s quest to superhero stardom began when he and his wife raised money for brand new books for the Inova Loudoun children’s department while living in Leesburg several years ago.
Years later in 2019, White decided he wanted to do more to put a smile on young faces and could probably pull off a Captain America.
He asked if could visit the hospital to read to children dressed as Captain America. Upon arriving, White noticed there weren't any children in the inpatient portion. Still, he suited up and visited with some of the nurses and adults. He was subsequently escorted down to the emergency room where he took photos with children, teens and adults.
Since that visit, White has been planting more seeds of kindness.
A 40-year-old government contractor, White now resides in Purcellville, Virginia with his wife and three children.
White prefers not to disclose his name because “it’s not for me.” Admittedly he does not hide it, but said he does not go out of his way to make it about himself.
White began volunteering with BetterALife, a local non-profit, at the beginning of 2021. Created to ensure no child goes hungry, the group distributes breakfast and lunch packages every month at a low-income apartment complex in Purcellville. They also go to schools and door to door making a personal impact and connection, distributing food to children in need.
White enjoys being present, through BetterALife, at the food distributions and understands how difficult it must be for the adults.
Elizabeth Ford, president of BetterALife, describes White as an “amazing man.”
“His heart is gold,” Ford said.
“When they smile, and they see their kids are getting something out of it I hope it lessens some of the insecurities and embarrassment that might come from that.”
White’s costume, he said, is a way to get people to ask questions, but also to show the kids how important they are.
“Out of all the time in which superheroes are saving the world and doing their thing, they’re taking the opportunity to spend time with them. I’m just using this opportunity to bring a very specific message.”
Captain America is also a very idealistic character in the way he approaches things, White said. He is always in costume when he goes out and makes it a point to leave the mask on until he is clear from the area. His whole costume is custom made and specifically fitted for him. There are only a couple companies that make the “movie quality” suits of which he has a couple, and everything he does is out of pocket cost.
“I will be doing this as long as I can ensure that when those kids see me, they see Captain America. Plus, it’s fun,” said White.
At the end of the day the thing that keeps him going is the smiles he sees.
“To know that my engagement had an impact; that is very important to me,” he said.
“He just wants to bring hope to children,” Ford said. There’s no other purpose.”
“If people can take an opportunity and see something that’s a little bit better maybe, they’ll see a little bit more of what’s better,” White said. “That is something I needed, and superheroes were there to give me that.”