by    0   0
AbledCauses banner shows the silhouettes of peoplecampaigning for a cause with their arms outstretched against white to fushia light effects in the background under the AbledCauses icon which consists of the outline of a heart in the middle of the gradient green rounded triangle that makes up the Abled icon.
AbledCauses Post Banner shows a video still of Ben Pierce sitting in a wooden chair and covering his face with his hands as he breaks down crying after he tells a reporter he doesn't want to go blind. The 9 year old is slowly losing his sight because of complications from his premature birth. Ben has dark brown hair and a narrow face with dark-tinted glasses. He's wearing a blue and white short-sleeved shirt with vertical and horizontal blue and white stripes with blue jeans. The headline reads: Abled Causes: Ben PIerce: Help fund a visual bucket list for 9 year old boy who is growing blind.

UPDATE: Ben Gets To See The Northern Lights

Ben Pierce, the nine-year-old Dallas boy who is slowly going blind can strike one item off his bucket list of amazing things to see before he loses his sight – the Northern Lights – also  known as the Aurora Borealis.

Ben and his family made the 3,000 mile trip to Alaska to see the celestial phenomenon and to also ride on a dog sled with Iditarod racer Aliy Zirkle.

Ben described the Northern Lights this way, “It’s really beautiful and pretty. It’s like watercolors going across the sky.”

Next on the bucket list, a trip to Turner Falls, Oklahoma to see Native American dancing, and off to London and Paris in 2015.

Photo by shows 9 year-old Ben Pierce standing with his arms outstretched with the Northern Lights casting a green hue in the sky in the background. Ben is wearing a blue parka with and orange stripe and ivory hood. He wears tinted glasses and is smiling at the camera. Click here to go to

Each Growth Spurt Causes More Damage To His Retinas

Photo on the left shows Ben Pierce as a tiny infant in the hospital born 4 months premature, small enough to fit into one adult hand. The second photo on the right shows Ben with his eyes closed and his mother Heidi smiling behind him as he's about to see one of his wishes, Van Gogh's painting of haystacks at the Dallas Museum of Art that opened early to let Ben have a private showing.

Ben Pierce has become an Internet sensation. His arrival into this world nine years ago already made him something of a sensation because he was born four months premature, weighing only one pound – six ounces. 

No one expected Ben to survive, and he was so premature that his eyelids were still fused shut. But he beat the odds, all except for his eyes. Because Ben required eye surgery, the procedure that prevented his retinas from detaching also resulted in some scar tissue. The consequence of that is that as Ben continues to grow, the scar tissue doesn’t – it won’t stretch – resulting in a progressive loss of vision.

So, before Ben’s vision is completely gone, his parents are trying to give him as many visual memories as possible – and they’ve helped him put together a visual “bucket list”. And, as you can imagine, the story’s gone viral on social media.

Here’s a report from WFAA TV in Dallas, Texas about how viewers have already been responding to his wish list. Among those who have answered his wish list are Weird Al Yankovic, one of Ben’s favorite artistHe’s also received offers from SeaWorld, Legoland in Grapevine, California and an offer to travel to a Mexican beach to see the sand and the ocean.

Updates from Ben’s mother Heidi’s blog:


Update: – have you heard of this place?? Mardi Gras World!)

Update: I feel bad, because I vetoed some of Ben’s wishes and he then thought some others weren’t realistic and didn’t share them with us (like Germany and snorkeling.) So I told him DREAM BIG and tell us anything and everything! Okay, but I’m still not willing to do Antarctica. :)

So if you were losing your eyesight what would YOU want to see? We love suggestions! Truly, please share your ideas – even if we can’t make the trip, we can show him online the places you think are best. Leave a comment and tell us what Ben should see!

Ben’s Wish List
c/o Hobby-Q
PO Box 2107
Lake Dallas, TX 75065-2107

Ben and all the kids LOVE postcards so if you want to send one from your hometown or your vacation spot then they would be thrilled. It’s the next best thing to him getting to see those places in person.

Update II: We’ve been receiving a LOT of messages asking if we have a donation page set up for Ben. We’ve not set anything up, but two donations pages were set up in Ben’s honor which was so kind:


PLUS: This Update on Weird Al from Ben’s mother Heidi’s blog:

I had posted on Ben’s wish list that he hoped to see a Weird Al concert, and we had found one in Texas this fall but tickets were more than we could manage. However, my research skills apparently failed me because the only place I could find ticket prices listed had them at $200. I was informed by Weird Al’s very devoted fans that this information could not possibly be accurate and they were correct! I admit I was wrong. :)

Which means that while I thought making Ben’s wish come true was going to be tricky, thanks to new and accurate information WE CAN MAKE IT HAPPEN!!!! Weird Al has some seriously committed fans and they want to share the joy with Ben and had been contributing to make it happen. We’ve not told Ben, we’re going to come up with a fun way to surprise him with the news. I found the ACTUAL ticket prices now online (apparently the other link was not a reputable source) and the plan to is head down to San Antonio (hitting Austin on the way) and have an incredible, glorious, Texas sized adventure. We’ll manage to make the Alamo AND Weird Al wishes come true in the same week? I don’t know if Ben will be able to handle the excitement!

I’m really, really happy that I was wrong about the tickets. :)

Oh, and did I mention that when we visited with Janet St. James for a follow up (that’s the video) that she shared Weird Al’s people had been in touch? Oh yes, they had! More on that exciting surprise to come…


These are places we’ve not necessarily told him about/shown him online yet but we’re going to try and take the kids to see.

– Farmers Branch Historical Park because of the old pioneer buildings and general store. (Bonus, looks like it’s free??)

– Similar idea, the Log Cabin Village in FW.

– The Kimball for more art in FW but also for the building itself, suggested by his architect uncle.

– Fort Worth Water Gardens – I hear they are beautiful at night.

– The FW Modern, because it’s gorgeous and because when B was tiny and only home a couple months my sister babysat our big kids and Kit and I took a visit there with Ben and oxygen tank in tow for Kit’s bday. We stayed very isolated so no one would expose him to any bugs! We’ve not visited since, shame on us. (Plus I appreciate when the wishes are free, much easier to make them happen!)

– Bass Hall because someone said you can do a free tour and he can just see the beautiful building.

– Central Park in Frisco (another suggestion for lovely spots to take him.)

– Dallas Farmers market, big and fantastic! I think our little food lover would enjoy it.


The ones Mom already vetoed due to practicality/finances:

– a video game company (Nintendo in Japan – ha! Fun, but far.)

– The Great Wall of China

– Mount Rushmore (too long a drive)

– the Sistine Chapel

– Death Valley (too hot)

– Leaning Tower of Pisa

– Roman Colosseum

– New Orleans “Mardi Gras stuff” (not a chance! New Orleans – sure, but not at Mardi Gras.  

Photo shows Ben Pierce and his mother Heidi from behind as Ben sees Vincent van Gogh;s painting of haystacks at the Dallas Museum of Art.

In the photo above, Ben gets one of his wishes fulfilled. The Dallas Art Museum opened early so that Ben and his family could have a private viewing of Vincent van Gogh’s famous “Haystacks” painting.

Ben was so moved by it, that it brought tears to his eyes.

AbledCauses - photo shows Ben Pierce hugging his mother after being taken to see Vincent van Gogh's famous painting 'Haystacks' at the Dallas Art Museum.




Photo from shows Ben Pierce sitting with his mother and 5 siblings on a sunny day with green trees in the background.
Abled Causes photo shows nine-year-old Ben Pierce standing outside on a sunny day with a church and a tall bushy tree behind him. Ben has brown hair and his wearing a yellow t-shirt and tinted glasses. He is holding the grip of a walking cane in his left hand and is smiling at the camera. Click here to go to the give forward campaign that is raising money for his bucket list.
AbledCauses Graphic shows the address for Ben's Wish List if you want to send a donation or an idea for his visual bucket list care of Hobby-Q, Post Office Box 2 1 0 7, Lake Dallas, Texas. Zip code 7 5 0 6 5 - 2 1 0 7.

Walt Disney World Is Booked For November!

From the Give Forward Campaign raising money for Ben’s Bucket List.

Click here to go the the Campaign page.

This note comes from the Campaign Team Leader and Fund Manager, Melissa Ulrich:

I am thrilled to share with you that today Heidi, Ben’s mom,  booked their family plane tickets and I booked their Walt Disney World portion of Ben’s wish list last week! They are keeping this a surprise from Ben for a little while longer but Heidi was full of emotion when she bought the tickets.

They chose to go with Old Key West so they could have a two bedroom villa so all 8 of them can be in the same room. As I have mentioned before, one of the most remarkable things about working with Ben’s family has been that they are truly a modest family.

Your generosity could have led them to choose a resort that was much more expensive. They opted to choose a really nice resort for this once in a lifetime trip for Ben but not splurge completely on the resort alone so that more of Ben’s wishes can be granted. We are going to add a few days to their trip to Universal so that Ben can do all of the Harry Potter attractions as well while they are in Orlando. More details on that portion a bit later.

November was the chosen month. Walt Disney World will already be decorated for the holidays and it is extra magical during that time. I know Ben is going to be amazed at the sheer size of the Christmas trees!

Thank you again to all that are making Ben’s wish list a reality. He is such a sweet boy that lives life to the fullest. It is very humbling to get to be a part of this incredible wish list being granted. Thank you for making this all possible for Ben and his family. They are extremely grateful.


Ben’s Vision Wish List (non-local):

From Ben’s mother’s blog (Heidi Thaden-Pierce):
– Doctor Who & Harry Potter studios in England: I said maybe someday… Our dream is to take him spring 2015 but we don’t want to get their hopes up too much as plane tickets alone look like they’ll run $10,000+ for the family. Ouch. But we’re working on it!!

– Also in England: the Globe theater (we’ve read several of his plays in kids’ versions), London Eye, Big Ben (of course! Ben!) then the Roman Wall (he read about it), Van Gogh’s sunflower, and Tower Bridge.

– While we’re over there anyway (and he’s dreaming big) he added Paris, to see the Louvre & Eiffel tower. Those were his two main requests but I’m sure we would go see more! (I had a dream about this – you can read about it here.)

– the forest, specifically the Redwoods (I really want to make this one happen even if it’s a 30 hour drive. I’ve heard how stunning it is to be up close and see and touch them. I just won’t think about that drive…)

– Los Angeles (our oldest was born there) to see the beach, and he said he’s heard there’s “This Disneyland thing that might be fun.” (HAHA! That might be fun… I’ve never been to Disney, I teased him that maybe it’s not that fun.) We could hit the beach on our way to the redwoods on that hoped for someday trip to California. (We did visit Galveston beach and it was wonderful! But we were told we really should take him to the ocean.)

– the Grand Canyon

– skiing (I’m nervous about this one but we’ll try to make it happen with a helmet. And bubble wrap.)

– snorkeling, maybe in the Florida Keys?

– The northern lights, he was fascinated by the pictures I showed him! (Where can we make this happen that would be relatively inexpensive? Because we can’t all fly to Iceland.)

– Frankfurt, Germany (He says he wants to see where I was born – I didn’t know he wanted to see it until today! Oh, and because Kinder Eggs. My parents sent them some when they use to live there, and he’s not forgotten them.)

– DC: Lincoln Memorial & the white house (We watched some of MLKs speeches and he was fascinated, both by the man and the memorial.)

– Parthenon in Greece (There is one in Kentucky! Not Kentucky, Tennessee! The friends we have near there are in KY, thus my confusion. And that’s WAY closer than Greece! We can hit it on our way to DC someday. I know it’s not the same, but we’re working on a budget. :) )

– The giant statue of Athena (also a version in Tennessee)

– a candy factory (There is one in Denver with free tours we hope to visit in May.)

– the desert (Arches National Park during Utah trip in spring.)

– the mountains (Colorado/Utah trip in spring)

– New York City (Six kids in NYC makes me nervous, but he said he really wants to see the Statue of Liberty and the Empire State Building. He’s a Percy Jackson fan. I’ll try to be brave and see if we can work towards this one. Someday.)

– A moose, but I think he’s kidding because he’s laughing really hard.

– Alaska (maybe to see a moose and northern lights??)

– The Food Network kitchen with all the cooking people. (He LOVES cooking shows, his “most favorite” is Cupcake Wars, but he also loves Worst Cooks in America and Iron Chef. And Chopped, and… he kept going, I just stopped typing.) :)

– Albuquerque, because of the Weird Al song. (Kit is the reason our kids are Weird Al fans, for which I tease him whenever they burst into simultaneous song in the back of the van – we’ll catch Albuquerque on our way back from Utah.)

Local Wishes:

– Legoland (Apparently this is a favorite spot for MANY people because we’ve received several emails saying they would sponsor this trip – THANK YOU for offering to help make this wish come true, we really appreciate it. Legoland contacted us right before the show aired and they’ve invited our family to come visit so this wish will be fulfilled!)

– Fort Worth zoo, because even though we took him to the Dallas Zoo he heard about the FW one and wants to see their tigers.

– Also that side of the metroplex, theFort Worth Museum of Science & History because he heard there was more than one science museum in the area and he adores the Perot.

– Fort Worth Botanical Gardens because he heard about the koi pond! I’ve not been in the Japanese gardens but I hear they are gorgeous, and the closest we may get the kids to Japan.

– Great Wolf Lodge waterpark in Grapevine, after hearing about some friends staying there. I let him watch the videos of riding inside the watersides and he thought that looked so cool! (Downside, you cannot get into the waterpark unless you are staying at the hotel. We’ll see…)

– ice skating (We tried on a fake rink, it didn’t go well. He wants to try on real ice.)

– a waterfall (We’re hoping to do a day trip to Turner Falls.)

– Children’s Aquarium in Fair Park, because Ben asked if he could teach sea life and we said we didn’t think it was possible. Apparently there you can!

– a cave (We’re about 3 hours from Inner Space caverns. Kit also wants to show him Carlsbad Caverns.)

– The Alamo & Riverwalk since we’ve been studying Texas for our homeschool (I bet we could combine this with the caverns above.)

– Antarctica, which is not happening but someone said the ICE! exhibit at Gaylord may be a close second? :) They said it’s incredible and he may get an Antarctic feel, so we’ll check on tickets in December.

– Also in December, Christkindlmart! We can’t get to Germany but I’m so excited to share that with the kids, one of my happiest childhood holiday memories. I told him about the twinkling lights and how beautiful the booths are at night.

– The Nutracker ballet, they watch the video each year but this December I want to take the older ones to see it live.

– Africa (he said the Sahara, the pyramids, and a safari) A friend suggested instead we look at Fossil Rim park for a North Texas version of a safari.

– The Dallas Aquarium (This one is in the works!)

– Heard Museum & Wildlife Sanctuary (I think our Perot pass gets in some of us for free, checking.)

– a Weird Al concert, (I have been informed that the ticket prices I saw quoted online were WAY off, which Kit had already suspected but I swear, I was checking everywhere!:) We heard the tickets were actually priced within our budget so I told Kit we are going to San Antonio!! I think the show is mid-October, and we’re going to combine a few of his wishes and it is going to be an epic journey of Texas fun!! I am so excited!!!!!)

– sand dunes (We’re hoping to visit Monohan State Park as the Sahara, his first request, is a bit far.)

– A bakery that makes yummy food, “mostly croissants and pastries.” He also wants to see how people decorate fancy cakes. We’ve not contacted them yet but someone suggested Ravelin’s Bakery may be able to let him see part of the baking process.

– Also food related, he wants to see how ice cream is made. He is so my child…

– use a microscope to see tiny things

– Chuck E. Cheese: Hmm… this seems hunger driven rather than vision related. (Ben defended this wish and said the older two kids went and talked about all the cool things they saw so he wants a turn to go!)

– a bike store (The inside. As opposed to the outside? He wanted me to include that – the INSIDE of a bike store.)

– a river

– a toy factory (He says he likes seeing things made.)

– Prairie Dog town

– Other animals: penguins, fish, turtles AND tortoises, sharks (like hammerhead sharks), macaws (he had to spell that one for me.) Parrots, hedgehogs, a kiwi (the bird, NOT the fruit.)

– A place where they make movies or shows, like Cartoon Network or a news show.

– How they make tortillas. (This boy loves food, and one of his vision helpers is teaching him “Cooking without Looking.” Thus all the food related wishes.)

– a comic book store (Hooray, an easy one!!!)

AbledCauses-More-Posts banner
AbledCauses Post Link Banner shows Amy Auden, the widow of Nick Auden leaving a memorial service for her husband at St. Andrews Church in Brighton, Australia. She has long brown hair and his wearing a shamrock green coat and is walking between two unidentified women. She is looking down, her face full of grief and her eyes full of tears. The headline reads: AbledCauses: The Legacy of 'Save Locky's Dad': 'Right To Try' Laws To Access Unapproved Drugs. Click here to go to the post.
AboutAbled link Banner shows Abled Co-Founder Laura Meddens looking out at the seaside at sunset in Curaçao with the text Laura Meddens: An Abled Vision For Global Accessibility, Inclusion and Equality. Click here to go to the AboutAbled page.
Click here to return to the homepage. hosting is provided by An Ingram Micro Company. Cloud hosting simplified. Trusted by small businesses worldwide since 1997. Click here to go to the website.

thoughts on this post

Back to Top