Watch CBSN Live

Texas boy sets his faltering eyes on a bucket list

As part of our continuing series, "On the Road," Steve Hartman meets 9-year-old Ben Pierce who suffers from a condition that is slowly stealing his sight
As part of our continuing series, "On the Roa... 03:18

DENTON, Texas - Nine-year-old Ben Pierce of Denton, Texas isn't blind - at least not yet. But he is practicing for that eventuality.

Born 17 weeks premature, Ben suffers from a condition that is slowly stealing his sight. He has already lost his peripheral vision. His parents, Dan and Heidi, say the rest is fading fast.

"And so our goal became, what can we help him experience, to store up these memories," said Heidi Pierce. "And we sat him down and said, 'What do you think would be cool to see? What's on your wish list?'"

For the last year, the Pierces have been crossing sites off Ben's before-I-go-blind-bucket-list.

The Pierces visit the Grand Canyon. CBS News

They have explored everything from the depths of Arizona to high above Alaska. From places they can go in their van to far away Van Goghs.

He is nine - which is also reflected in the list itself.

"He wanted to see the inside of the Apple store," said Heidi. "And his enthusiasm about seeing these things, his joy, is contagious."

Ben Pierce CBS News

Today it's chalk under a microscope.

That was actually on the list. His parents really are trying to cram in as many different visuals as they can.

"He'll be able to talk about what the ocean is like with his kids," said Dan.

"And he will remember in his mind what that looks like because he was there before," said Heidi.

It's a gift he may never be able to fully appreciate - at least so I thought.

The Pierce family heads for the Apple store. CBS News

When asked if he realizes how lucky he is that his parents are making all this happen Ben got a little emotional. He considered that for quite a while - then asked a question:

"Do you have a pencil?"

As his parents later explained, when Ben finds a question too emotional to answer, he prefers to draw it out. Eventually he handed me a full sheet of doodles - which included the word "aurora," as in borealis; a little guy saying "wow!"; the words "I pad from dad" and the inside of the Apple store.

And all this equals, "Yes! I'm thankful!"

Ben may be losing his eyesight, but he clearly sees what he's got.

To contact On the Road, or to send us a story idea, e-mail us.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.