Teen Gradually Losing Eyesight Crosses Items Off 'Bucket List' of Things to See - NBC Chicago

Teen Gradually Losing Eyesight Crosses Items Off 'Bucket List' of Things to See

Josh said he's not going to let the disease slow him down, and he is sharing his story and message.

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    Teen Losing Eyesight Crosses Items Off 'Bucket List'

    Doctors told a 15-year-old East Chicago boy, Josh Bangert, that he is going to lose his eyesight by march. But in a remarkable show of support, his community is rallying for him and his family of 10 by helping him work his way down a bucket list of sights to see. Natalie Martinez reports. (Published Friday, Oct. 12, 2018)

    First there was devastating news.

    Doctors told a 15-year-old East Chicago boy, Josh Bangert, that he is going to lose his eyesight by march. But in a remarkable show of support, his community is rallying for him and his family of 10 by helping him work his way down a bucket list of sights to see.

    The supersized Bangert family pulled into the parking lot at the United Center. It’s something Josh has wanted to do for much of his life. Now he can cross it off his list thanks to two families who generously gave up season tickets so the whole Bangert clan could go to Wednesday night’s game.

    Josh started having blurry vision in his left eye four weeks ago.

    "When you look at a light and look away, that color in the middle it looks like that," he said of his gradually fading vision.

    His mom thought he needed glasses.

    But doctors, who were at first puzzled, soon revealed stunning news.

    Josh has Leber’s disease.

    "I can see peripheral vision but not what I’m looking at because my optic nerve is growing," he explained to NBC 5.

    His mother, Margaret, said it's happening quickly.

    "It’s going to be rapid loss of eyesight," she said. "On the left and moving to the right."

    Josh is expected to lose 80-90 percent of his eyesight by March.

    "I just felt super depressed," he said. "I laid down on my bed and started praying."

    Josh and his family—eight siblings plus mom and dad--helped Josh create a bucket list of things he wants to see and do before he loses his eyesight.

    Snorkeling

    Mountains

    Ocean

    California

    Desert

    Mount rushmore

    Badlands

    Chicago bulls game

    Jet skiing

    Northern lights

    Saint louis cardinals game at busch stadium

    Skydiving

    White water rafting

    Alpine slides

    Niagara falls

    "I’ve been taking eyesight for granted, which most people do," he said. "I want to do the most I can before I can’t anymore."

    A GoFundMe page is raising tens of thousands of dollars to help send the family to places like California where they went last week.

    "Seeing the mountains was amazing," Josh said.

    Now he and his family are planning to see the Grand Canyon at the end of the month.

    The West Chicago community sophomore basketball player is getting major support from his classmates and best friend--Chris Gontanis.

    "It’s my job to lead him and guide him through it," Chris said. "Make sure I’m in the hallways, make sure he knows where he's gong. Treat him like Josh, my best friend."

    And they’re all preparing for what’s to come.

    "It’s slowly sinking in," Josh's sister Tali Abraham said.

    "Life will change a lot," Josh said.

    Josh's dad, Keith Bangert, said Josh will get used to "the new normal" with lines drawn on the basketball court so he can see the basket.

    "He just loves basketball," Keith said. "Basketball tryouts are November 5."

    Josh said he's not going to let the disease slow him down, and he is sharing his story and message.

    "If anyone's out there that has something like me, keep praying, turn your eyes to God," he said. "He'll protect you. Follow through on what he’s trying to do for you and do it."

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