CCSS

R.1, R.2, R.3, R.4, R.7, W.3, SL.1, L.4 


Bravely Going Blind

Last year, doctors told Josh, 15, that he would soon lose his eyesight. Here’s how he made the most of the time he had left with his vision.  

Saverio Truglia for Scholastic

    Josh Bangert, 15, was outside playing basketball. All of a sudden, the vision in his left eye started to go blurry. He took a break, and it went away. But the next time he played, the fuzziness came back. It started happening more and more often.  

    Josh’s mom took him to the eye doctor. Josh expected to leave with glasses. Instead, the doctor gave him terrible news: Josh had a rare disease with no cure. He would probably be blind by the end of the year. 

    The news left Josh devastated. All he could think about were the things he wouldn’t be able to do. Basketball. Video games. Driving. “I threw myself on my bed and cried,” he says.

    To clear his mind, Josh took a bike ride. When he got home, he could tell his parents and siblings had also been crying. He has a big family—seven brothers and sisters. Everyone hugged and promised to support him. 

    Josh started to think, I can do this. Then he made the whole family laugh. He joked that he should pick the restaurant for dinner. “It could be the last meal I see,” he said.

    Josh Bangert, 15, was outside playing basketball. The vision in his left eye started to blur. He took a break, and it got better. But the next time he played, it happened again. It started to happen more and more often.   

    Josh’s mom took him to the eye doctor. Josh thought he would get glasses. Instead, he got bad news. Josh had a rare disease with no cure. He would probably be blind by the end of the year.

    Josh felt devastated. He thought about the things he wouldn’t be able to do. Basketball. Video games. Driving. “I threw myself on my bed and cried,” he says.

    To clear his mind, Josh took a bike ride. When he got home, he could tell his family had been crying too. He has seven brothers and sisters. Everyone hugged and promised to support him.

    Josh started to feel better. He even made a joke. He said he should pick the restaurant for dinner. “It could be the last meal I see,” he said.

    Josh Bangert, 15, was outside playing basketball when the vision in his left eye suddenly blurred. He took a break, and his vision returned to normal—but the next time he played, the fuzziness came back. It started happening more and more often.  

    When Josh’s mother took him to the eye doctor, Josh expected to leave with glasses. Instead, the doctor gave him terrible news: Josh had a rare, incurable disease and would probably be blind by the end of the year.

    The diagnosis left Josh devastated, thinking only about the things he wouldn’t be able to do: basketball, video games, driving. “I threw myself on my bed and cried,” he remembers.

    To clear his mind, Josh took a bike ride. When he got home, it was obvious that his parents and siblings had also been crying. Josh has a large family—seven brothers and sisters—and he was quickly surrounded by people hugging him and promising their support.

    Josh started to think, I can handle this. Then he made everyone laugh, joking that he should choose the restaurant for dinner because “it could be the last meal I see.”

A Bucket List

    Taking trips with a large family is expensive. That’s why Josh had never traveled far from his home in West Chicago, Illinois. He had never seen the ocean, the mountains, or the desert. 

    A family friend encouraged Josh to make a list of things he wanted to do before he lost his sight. He called it a bucket list. Then someone set up a page online to collect donations. 

    What came next was an outpouring of support. Josh’s friends held a Wiffle ball tournament that raised $800. Students at Josh’s school collected $600 by passing around “Jars for Josh.” One friend sold his PlayStation and gave Josh the money. In the end, almost 800 people donated more than $50,000. 

    With the money, Josh’s family took a trip to California. Josh saw the ocean for the first time. He went to a St. Louis Cardinals game and met his favorite player, Yadier Molina. He went hiking. And he traveled to Arizona to see the Grand Canyon. 

    “Those experiences are seared in my memory,” Josh says. “It was amazing.”

    Taking trips with a big family is expensive. That’s why Josh had never traveled far from his home in Illinois. He had never seen the ocean, the mountains, or the desert.

A family friend encouraged Josh to make a list of things he wanted to do before he lost his sight. He called it a bucket list.

Someone set up a page online to collect donations. There was an outpouring of support. Josh’s friends raised $800 with a Wiffle ball tournament. Students at Josh’s school collected $600 by passing around “Jars for Josh.” One friend sold his PlayStation and gave Josh the money. In the end, almost 800 people donated more than $50,000.

With the money, Josh’s family took a trip to California. Josh saw the ocean. He went to a St. Louis Cardinals game and met his favorite player, Yadier Molina. He went hiking. And he went to Arizona to see the Grand Canyon.

“Those experiences are seared in my memory,” Josh says. “It was amazing.”

    Taking trips is expensive for a large family, so Josh had never traveled far from his home in West Chicago, Illinois. He had never seen the ocean, the mountains, or the desert.

    A family friend encouraged Josh to create a list of things he wanted to experience while he still had his eyesight. He called it a bucket list.

    Someone set up a page online to collect donations, and an outpouring of support followed. Josh’s friends organized a Wiffle ball tournament that raised $800, and students at Josh’s school collected $600 by passing around “Jars for Josh.” One friend sold his PlayStation and gave Josh the money. In total, almost 800 people donated more than $50,000.

    With the money, Josh’s family took a trip to California. Josh saw the ocean for the first time. He went to a St. Louis Cardinals game and met his favorite player, Yadier Molina. He went hiking. And he traveled to Arizona to see the Grand Canyon.

    “Those experiences are seared in my memory,” Josh says. “It was amazing.”

One Last Season

Armando L. Sanchez/Chicago Tribune/TNS via Getty Images (1); Courtesy of Keith Bangert (All Other Images)

    Josh had more experiences on his bucket list. But in November, he decided to give up traveling. That way he could play basketball with his high school team for one last season. “There’s nothing I love to do more,” Josh says. 

    The season started off well. But by December, Josh could barely see what was right in front of him. The team began wearing extra-tall knee socks with blue stripes. They looked a little silly. But the socks helped Josh figure out which players were on his team. 

    One of Josh’s last games was against one of the league’s best teams. Friends and family packed the stands. Josh couldn’t really see the basket, the scoreboard, or his teammates. But he was making blocks and free throws. At one point, he dribbled, spun, shot—and scored. The crowd went wild. 

    “I couldn’t even see the hoop, but I was making baskets,” he says. “That game was so much fun.”

    There was more on Josh’s list. But in November, he stopped traveling. He wanted to play basketball with his high school team for one last season. “There’s nothing I love to do more,” he says.

    The season started off well. But by December, Josh could barely see. The team began wearing extra-tall knee socks with blue stripes. They looked a little silly. But it helped Josh figure out which players were on his team.

    One of Josh’s last games was against a really good team. Friends and family packed the stands. Josh couldn’t really see. Still, he made blocks and free throws. At one point, he dribbled, spun, shot—and scored. The crowd went wild.

    “I couldn’t even see the hoop, but I was making baskets,” he says. “That game was so much fun.”

    Although Josh hadn’t crossed off everything on his bucket list, he decided to give up traveling in November so that he could play basketball with his high school team for one last season. “There’s nothing I love to do more,” Josh says.

    The season started off well—but by December, Josh could barely see what was right in front of him. The team began wearing extra-tall knee socks with blue stripes. They looked a little silly, but the socks helped Josh distinguish his teammates from their opponents.

    One of Josh’s last games was against one of the league’s best teams. Friends and family packed the stands. Although Josh couldn’t really see the basket, the scoreboard, or his teammates, he was making blocks and free throws. At one point, he dribbled, spun, shot—and scored. The crowd went wild.

    “I couldn’t even see the hoop, but I was making baskets,” he recalls. “That game was so much fun.”

Moving Forward

    Josh is adjusting to his new life. He still plays basketball in the driveway. He does schoolwork with the help of an iPad that can read text aloud. He has even figured out how to play video games.

    Josh tries not to dwell on the things he can’t do. Instead, he focuses on church, friends and family, and new hobbies. In fact, he recently launched a YouTube channel with his sister. They talk about life and set up silly challenges.

    “Believe it or not, I think my life is better now than it was last year,” Josh says. “I’m closer to God. I feel closer to my friends and family. I’ve done things I never would have done. I’m a stronger and better person than I was before.”

    Josh is getting used to his new life. He still plays basketball in the driveway. For schoolwork, he uses an iPad that can read text out loud. He has even found ways to play video games.

    Josh tries not to dwell on the things he can’t do. He focuses on church, friends and family, and new hobbies. He recently launched a YouTube channel with his sister. They talk about life and set up silly challenges.

    “Believe it or not, I think my life is better now than it was last year,” Josh says. “I’m closer to God. I feel closer to my friends and family. I’ve done things I never would have done. I’m a stronger and better person than I was before.”

    Josh is adjusting to his new life. He still plays basketball in the driveway, and he does schoolwork with the help of an iPad that can read text aloud. He has even figured out how to play video games.

    Determined not to dwell on the limitations in his life, Josh focuses on church, friends and family, and new hobbies. He and his sister recently launched a YouTube channel, where they discuss life and set up silly challenges.

    “Believe it or not, I think my life is better now than it was last year,” Josh says. “I’m closer to God. I feel closer to my friends and family. I’ve done things I never would have done. I’m a stronger and better person than I was before.”

ACTIVITY: 
Cause and Effect

You’ve just read “Bravely Going Blind” It’s time to try this activity!

You’ve just read “Bravely Going Blind” It’s time to try this activity!

You’ve just read “Bravely Going Blind” It’s time to try this activity!

What to do: A cause is what makes an event happen. An effect is what happens as a result. In the chart below, fill in the missing causes and effects.

What to do: cause is what makes an event happen. An effect is what happens as a result. In the chart below, fill in the missing causes and effects.

What to do: cause is what makes an event happen. An effect is what happens as a result. In the chart below, fill in the missing causes and effects.

Cause: Last year, Josh found out he was going blind.

Cause: Last year, Josh found out he was going blind.

Cause: Last year, Josh found out he was going blind.

Effect 1:

Answer: Josh was upset about the things he would no longer be able to do.

Effect 1:

AnswerJosh was upset about the things he would no longer be able to do.

Effect 1:

AnswerJosh was upset about the things he would no longer be able to do.

Effect 2:

HintWhat did a family friend encourage Josh to do?

Effect 2:

HintWhat did a family friend encourage Josh to do?

Effect 2:

HintWhat did a family friend encourage Josh to do?

Effect 3:

HintWhat did Josh’s friends and family do to help him?

Effect 3:

HintWhat did Josh’s friends and family do to help him?

Effect 3:

HintWhat did Josh’s friends and family do to help him?

Effect 4:

Hint: How did Josh use the money that people donated?

Effect 4:

HintHow did Josh use the money that people donated?

Effect 4:

HintHow did Josh use the money that people donated?

Effect 5:

HintHow did losing his eyesight change Josh?

Effect 5:

HintHow did losing his eyesight change Josh?

Effect 5:

HintHow did losing his eyesight change Josh?

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