Ben Pierce is only 9 years old and he’s crossed another item off of his dream bucket list. Ben’s not like most 9-year-olds though. He’s going blind.
Born four months early, his eyes didn’t have the chance to fully develop. Because of that, Ben has to wear extra thick glasses. He has spotty vision and has to have perfect lighting and a magnifying glass just to read a book.
It’s been tough for Ben to grasp that soon he won’t be able to see at all. But his family is making sure he doesn’t miss a thing. He’s been working with his parents to train on how to get around without sight. They came up with an even greater mission for Ben so he could have memories and visions to remember his entire life.
The Pierce family asked Ben the places he’d like to go and things he’d like to do before he loses his vision, which is when his bucket list was born. His epic bucket list includes the Eiffel Tower, the Grand Canyon, the White House, ice skating, snorkeling, and Disneyland. So far, he’s been able to go to New York City, the Statue of Liberty, the Fort Worth Zoo, a water tower and a broadway play with the help of campaigns that have raised money for his travels. InspireMore featured Ben’s story earlier this year and our campaign raised an amazing $5,495, surpassing the original goal of $1000, all thanks to the passionate readers who wanted to help Ben see the world.
One of the big dreams Ben put on his bucket list was viewing the Northern Lights. Ben’s parents Heidi and Kit told Ben to dream big when he made this list, but they knew that, with 5 other kids to take care of, this particular feat would be extremely difficult to mark off the list. Then, Alaska Airlines pilot, Chris Cice, came in to save the day.
Cice found out about Ben’s story from his daughter. After researching more about Ben, Cice knew he wanted to help. Alaska Airlines couldn’t travel to the Iceland Northern Lights, but they could go to Fairbanks, Alaska. He worked with Heidi and the airline to plan the trip of a lifetime, and the pair kept the whole thing under wraps from the rest of the Pierce family until Cice arrived at the family’s home in Dallas, Texas to tell them the incredible news.
The entire family was overjoyed and so thankful to be given this magical trip thanks to the generosity of Cice and Alaska Airlines. The family stayed at an Alaskan host family’s home and were able to view the unreal, mystical aurora borealis of the Northern Lights. The Pierce clan was in disbelief the next day because the beauty of the wondrous Northern Lights was truly otherworldly. Ben and his older brother also got to go on a mushing ride, a motor form of dogsledding. Everyone got to a see a moose, something high up on Ben’s list. The kids were ecstatic to see a moose in its natural habitat, so excited that they ran barefoot outside into the freezing cold! The entire family had a fantastic time and Ben got to cross off more items from his bucket list than he expected. We hope Ben is able to see many more places and experience all that he can while he still has his vision.