Boy going blind will see the Northern Lights

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by JANET ST. JAMES

WFAA

Posted on May 20, 2014 at 11:22 AM

DFW AIRPORT — Since our first report on nine-year-old Ben Pierce and his "bucket list" of things to see before he goes blind, offers have been pouring in from across the country and around the world.

Since that story was broadcast, Ben has been able to check off New York City and the Statue of Liberty; a Broadway play; and the Fort Worth Zoo.

One website has raised more than $20,000 for a Disney trip.

But what could be Ben's most difficult wish was made possible at Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport .

"I'm a captain with Alaska Airlines,” announced Chris Cece to the surprised Pierce family, "Alaska Airlines would like to invite you and your entire family to Alaska to view the Northern Lights."

Ben has five brothers and sisters. Alaska Airlines is picking up the tab for the family of eight, including accommodations.

Ben’s jaw dropped at the news, and he hugged his mother Heidi tightly.

“I am never for a loss for words and this really caught us off guard,” Heidi Pierce said. “We've had so much support, and it's really blown us away.”

“When we told him to 'Dream big,' that's one of the things he said,” added Ben's dad, Kit Pierce. “We never expected to do it, honestly.”

Captain Cece said when he saw Ben's story, he had to make something happen. "It brought a lot of inspiration in my heart towards Ben, and I really thought to be able to do something for Ben and his family was on my list of things to do," he said.

Born severely premature, scar tissue from eye surgery is causing Ben’s vision loss with every growth spurt. He's already legally blind and has no peripheral vision. He practices walking with a cane, and is starting to learn Braille, in preparation for the day when his world is dark.

No one knows when that will happen. But before it does, he'll see the Northern Lights, which are visible starting in September and through the winter.

"Really really happy,” is how Ben described the once-in-a-lifetime trip. He’s looking forward to seeing a moose, which is also on his wish list.

Even though he might not realize it, good people bringing Ben's Wish List to life are changing his view of the world.

E-mail jstjames@wfaa.com

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