While most nine-year-old boys are learning to play video games or baseball, Ben Pierce is learning to become blind...
...Ben was born at 23 weeks gestation, more than four months early. He weighed one pound and six ounces. He was so underdeveloped that his eyelids were still fused shut....
...Despite the odds, Ben is healthy today. Healthy, except for his eyes. He has had to have eye surgery.
“It prevented his retinas from detaching, but it also left some scar tissue," Kit explained. "And so every time he grows, as his eyes are growing, the scar tissue is not stretching. So he's losing a little more eyesight each time he has a growth spurt.”The doctors have encouraged Ben's parents to provide as many visual memories as they can, as it will help him throughout his life. The parents created a list of the things they wanted Ben to see and experience before he goes completely blind, and then they had Ben create a wish list of the things that he would like to see.
As the story has been featured, the magic of community, social media, and the kindness of strangers has been on blast. This kid is pretty cool, and his wish list of sights is comprised of things many of us would likely list, coupled with things important to a 9-year old, as well as quirky things you wouldn't expect, and things that seem to be well beyond his nine years. He wanted to see the Apple Store. He wanted to go to Universal Studio's Harry Potter-themed parks. Pyramids, landmarks, oceans, mountains, a Van Gogh.
Ben is a Weird Al fan, something I can relate to, being the mother of two boys. Someone, somewhere, somehow, got the attention of Mr. Yankovich, who has facilitated Ben's attendance at an upcoming show. Legoland and Seaworld stepped up. The Dallas Museum of Art let Ben get up close and personal with the Van Gogh he wanted to see, something that brought tears to his eyes - and mine.
Reading through the comments on the Facebook page his family recently set up, people far and wide have offered experiences, vacation homes and money to help this sweet child see the world before it goes dark for him. I wish I had a million bucks or so to scoop that sweet child up and take him anywhere and everywhere his heart desires.