From the December 2015 magazine.

My Buddy Valdez

He lost his sight, but gained a great friend and a program that saved his life

I never had much growing up in the Bronx. When I was 6 years old, a social worker removed me from my mom’s house because of all the alcohol, drugs, chaos and abuse there. I spent the rest of my childhood in different group homes across the five boroughs. I was in and out of therapy for the next 22 years.

I managed to get my GED from a second-chance high school. I was studying to become a mechanic. But one day on the way to school, in October 1990, something strange happened to me on the bus. My friends noticed I couldn’t keep my eyes open, no matter how hard I tried. Gradually they closed completely, and I began to panic. I was taken to the hospital where they told me I had had a stroke. I lost 80% of my vision that day. It never came back.

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