Newtown’s Justin Bogdanoff overcame brain tumor, vision issues to wrestle

(WTNH)–Justin Bogdanoff’s sister Julia once wrote, “I woke up in the morning and thought it would be an ordinary day, but a tragic phone call turned it upside down.”

“It was probably the worst thing a parent could ever hear,” said Justin’s mother Elizabeth.

Justin was only four years old when he was diagnosed with craniopharyngioma, which is a brain tumor that is most commonly found in children.

“I was diagnosed when I was in kindergarten, when I was doing an eye exam, and I could only see partly out of my left eye. It went to Yale so they could do surgery, and after a few years I went to Boston [for treatment].

At five and a half years old, Justin was finally clear of the brain tumor. Now a freshman at Newtown High School, where he helps inspire everyone around him on and off the wrestling mat.

“Justin has 100/20 in his left eye, 50/20 in the right, so he has a lot of visual deficits that glasses don’t help because his optic nerve is damaged. So he inspires us,” said

Since the second grade, Justin has been working along side coach Bray.

“The thing I’ll say about Justin is that, regardless of his condition, he always brings everything that he has to the table,” Bray said. “Clearly, it’s a difficult thing in a sport like wrestling where you require adrenaline. It’s almost a survival skill, and he doesn’t have that. So for him to overcome that, it’s a pretty terrific thing.”

Justin may never have 100 percent vision, but when he’s on the mat, none of that seems to matter.

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