The family of a 9-year-old boy going blind and on a mission to see sights from around the world has raised thousands of dollars to fund trips to his final sightseeing wish list.
Ben Pierce was born extremely prematurely and as a result his eye sight has slowly been diminishing since birth. Last year his doctors finally told Ben and his family that he was out of time and his eyesight would be gone before adulthood. Since getting the news, the Pierce family -- which has six children including Ben -- has been on a mission to take Ben to all the places he wants to see before he goes blind.
“Ben made his list and we said ‘Dream big buddy.’ We know we can’t get to everything on here [but] we’re not going to tell him no,” said Ben’s father Kit Pierce.
While the Pierce family eventually set up a fundraising site, Kit Pierce said he was surprised at how supportive people have been by helping to get Ben access to NASA, the Wizarding World of Harry Potter and a major league soccer match.
“So many wonderful people have stopped us and said we can give you a hand. It’s really amazing,” said Pierce. “A friend of ours said I know a person, I can let him see a soccer match. ... There’s so many great people who are just coming out of the woodwork.”
Additionally, after getting requests on the family blog for a fundraising site, the family has raised nearly $20,000 to fund Ben’s adventures.
“We’re trying to get as much in as we can. We have no timelines and no guarantees. He could wake up tomorrow and be blind,” Kit Pierce said of his son.
The family is still preparing Ben to go through life without sight.
“We hope for the best and prepare for the worst,” said Pierce, who said Ben works with a Braille tutor and is being taught how to use a cane.
But the Pierce family is not ready to stop yet. In the next few weeks they are going on a road trip to Colorado to see family and have a few important stops on the way.
“We’re going to see the mountain [and] Arches National Park [in Utah]. That’s definitely something he’s got to see,” said Pierce. “We’re going to hit Albuquerque, because it’s the name of a favorite Weird Al song.”
There is one big trip that the Pierce family is still working on putting together: a family trip to England. Among the sites Ben is hoping to see is Big Ben, the Globe theater, Van Gogh’s Sunflower painting and the studios where the long-running British TV show “Dr. Who” is filmed.