Remembering Canton’s John Keets at the Museum.

John Keets of Canton was only 15 years old when his family found out that he was HIV positive in August, 1989. Two weeks later he was diagnosed with AIDS. With the help of his mother, his biggest fan, John began to talk about HIV and AIDS to anyone who would listen. He became an advocate for AIDS research. A classmate helped in organizing the John Keets AIDs walk raising $20,000 to donate to the Salk Institute. He went to rallies to speak about AIDs, both locally and nationally. He founded the John Keets Foundation for AIDS Research and Education.

People began to take notice of the young man who was wise beyond his years. Celebrities like Illinois native Josh Taylor (Days of Our Lives, Beverly Hills 90210) reached out to John to join the cause. From Teen Magazine John received the Noxzema Most Outstanding Teenager Award and a cash prize of $10,000 in 1992. 

John passed away at the age of 20 on May 16, 1994. Surviving are his mother, father, younger brother Matt Keets (and his wife and family) as well as many former friends and classmates. He was a hero and a voice to many in bringing awareness at a time when people feared not only the disease but those who suffered from HIV/AIDS. 

The Canton Area Heritage Center has created a special tribute to John Keets, his life and activism, with the help and support of Liz Keets, his mother.

Heritage Center
111 S. Main St.
Canton, IL 61520

Fridays, 10:00am – Noon
Saturdays, 10:00am – 2:00pm
Sundays, 1:00pm – 4:00pm

Admission is free but donations are welcome!