In a now-viral video of the moment, Jonathan looks around and smiles and laughs along with his classmates, giving everyone a thumbs-up. Then he takes the glasses off and puts his hands over his face, overcome with emotion. Suddenly, he’s sobbing.
“I’ve been in education for 25 years, and to see that reaction on his face, and that pure joy and overwhelming happiness and sadness, all those emotions at once, was just an awesome experience,” said Scott Hanson, principal of Lakeview High School in Cottonwood, Minn.
The glasses were handed to Jonathan, 12, by Hanson, who is also colorblind. Hanson got a pair for Christmas two years ago and brings them into seventh-grade science during the lesson on genetics, because colorblindness is an inherited condition. He said this is the first time he was able to share the glasses with a colorblind student.
Jonathan’s parents, Carole and Don Jones, were in the classroom when Jonathan put on the glasses for the first time. When they saw his reaction to the colors around him, they knew they had to figure out how to pay for the glasses, which are typically $269 to $429.
“It wasn’t a question of if, just how we were going to budget this,” said Carole Jones, a 47-year-old food blogger.
Once the family set aside the money and bought Jonathan a pair, they wanted a colorblind classmate of Jonathan’s to also have his own pair of the glasses, which have optical filters that enhance the perception of color for people with colorblindness.
Since the video went viral last week, family, friends and even strangers were messaging the Jones family offering to contribute money for Jonathan so he could get the glasses. So they decided to create a GoFundMe with a goal of $350 to buy a pair for Jonathan’s classmate.
The fundraiser has since raised more than $28,000, and Jones said the money will go toward purchasing glasses for other colorblind students who can’t afford them. The company that makes the glasses, EnChroma, said it will work with the Jones family and donate a pair of glasses for each pair purchased with the money from the fundraiser.
My little brother is severely colorblind and so is his principle at school. While they were learning about colorblindness in class, his principle brought in some glasses that let him see color for the first time, and he was very emotional. Check it out: pic.twitter.com/LQhAND9RJq— Ben Jones (@BenJones_5) November 21, 2019
Kent Streeb, a spokesman for EnChroma, said there isn’t a limit to the number of glasses the company will contribute. The company, which advocates for more colorblind testing in schools, believes students are at a disadvantage when they can’t see color in class.
Some states require that schools test for colorblindness, but many, like Minnesota, don’t.
“There are kids sitting in class who don’t understand why they might not be picking up on some things,” Streeb said.
Jonathan’s two older brothers figured out this week that they have the same genetic colorblindness as their brother, and EnChroma said they’d also give them each a pair of glasses, according to Carole Jones.
Jonathan has started wearing the pair his parents bought him to class, and told his mother how much it has helped him. Earlier this school year, he had to repeatedly ask his biology lab partner for help when differentiating between lab instructions written in red and black. Now, he can do the assignment without asking for a hand.
He tried to describe to his mother why he had such an emotional reaction the first time he put on the glasses.
“The colors just attacked me, mom,” he told her.