Want to read about the wishes that have come true? See that list here!

When we received the news that his eyesight had changed so dramatically we immediately began Ben’s wish list. What did he want to see, where did he want to go, what could we help him experience visually before he lost more sight… One of his therapists explained that as he gets older it will be easier for him to describe things and interact with the sighted world if he has memories of things – like snow, she said, or the ocean or a mountain. And of course beyond the practical logistics of it, we wanted to help Ben have the emotional experience of witnessing this wild and wonderful world!

Some of what Ben wants to see isn’t realistic, either because of practicality or finances. But we still want him to share all his dreams – if it’s something we can’t see in person we’re looking up places online to see videos or photos. Almost every day he pops into our room after bedtime and says, “May I see a photo of a glacier?” or “Can you show me Mount Rushmore?” or “I want to see the Sistine Chapel.”

It takes all my self control to not cry every time he asks me to show him these things.

Anyway, some of Ben’s list makes me laugh – like the Apple store. Others have me curious (a bike store, or chalk under a microscope??) While we can’t make it all happen, here’s his list of things he hopes to see and experience while he still has as much eyesight as possible.

Ben’s Vision Wish List:

– Northern California: the Golden Gate Bridge & the Redwood Forest (hoping for summer 2015)

– Las Vegas

– Germany where his mom was born (and I said someday we’ll make this happen, just not soon.)

– snorkeling

– Parthenon in Greece (There is one in Tennessee! And it’s WAY closer than Greece! I know it’s not the same, but we’re working on a budget. :) )

– a Weird Al concert which WILL happen as soon as I do research and find a show relatively close.

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

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!

– ice skating (We skated in Albuquerque and he fell in LOVE, we’re now looking for local options.)

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

– 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.

The ones Mom vetoed due to practicality/finances BUT has been told she must reconsider because apparently Ben’s dreams have a way of moving heaven and earth to happen. :)

– The Great Wall of China
– Mount Rushmore (too long a drive, but someday?)
– the Sistine Chapel (Maybe we’ll get to Italy!)
– Death Valley (too hot!)
– Leaning Tower of Pisa (See Italy above.)
– Food Network Kitchens
– Roman Colosseum (Ditto – clearly we need an Italy trip.)
– Japan

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.

Also, go give us ideas here for the NON-vision bucket list: what should Ben try later on that helps him focus on his other senses? We’re loving the fun ideas – it helps Ben get excited about all of the adventures to come when he’s no longer light dependent. (I love that phrase from Thunder Dog! Talk about giving a new perspective on life without sight.) :)

300 Responses to Wishes

  1. Gabriela Redin says:

    Hi Hiedi,

    My name is gaby, Im also an American, but live abroad in Florence, Italy. It just broke my heart noticing you crossed out the Colosseum, Sistine Chapel, Leaning tower. My husband and I rent various apartments here in Florence and for us it would be an honor to invite you and your family to stay in one of our places. They’re all pretty small apartments, but somehow we can help you and the kids adjust. I think Ben would be amazed at visiting the Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore or the famous Ponte Vecchio or Palazzo Pitti or Boboli Gardens. Florence is a tiny gem, and yet its filled with so much history and art. I would love to give Ben the opportunity to see it all in person. Aside from Florence, the leaning tower of Pisa is only an hour away. You can also take day trips to visit Pisa, Luca, Siena and one more place I’d highly recommend you: San Gimignano, its literally like stepping back in time…I think Ben and the kids would love it :) Please write back, I just wish I can help you and your family in any way. As a child I also had a particular experience, it shifted my life completely, I am just grateful that I am alive.

    Cheers from Florence,


  2. Debbie Skinner says:

    Hi – I have a brother who is legally blind and I have seen first hand the struggles he has had. He is fortunate that he can see some shapes and colors. It is not much but my husband and I would love to treat Ben and his family to the Ice exhibit at The Gaylord. Please let me know – it would be our great honor to do this for Ben. Thanks for sharing Ben’s story. I will pray for Ben and hope many of his wishes can be granted.

  3. Kathleen Mosher says:

    I was working on getting him access to Legoland and I see that they already contacted him before the show aired and took care of this. My next door neighbor works for them and he said they would be happy to. So glad this dream came true and he can cross it off his bucket list!

    Idea: How about cards…..people can make them and send him well wishes … he can receive them every day?

  4. Sue says:

    I suggest taking him to the lavender fields near Mt. Hood in Oregon. They are absolutely beautiful & smell amazing, so he would always be able to associate the smell of lavender to the stunning scenery. :-) And maybe you could see the Columbia River Gorge & Multnomah Falls while you’re there. Sending our best wishes to sweet Ben!!

  5. Susan says:

    I have seen Ben’s story and it breaks my heart. I have been to Italy and to Greece. I am originally from Illinois and moved to Texas a few months. One of the items I purchased at Vatican City was a miraculous medal. It is inexpensive and would love to send it to Ben. The daughter of a friend of mine was thought to be dying, someone pinned this medal to her blanket and she is now alive and well. I want to give Ben one of these medals to wear. Secondly, I want to send the post cards I have from Greece and lastly I have a souvenir small baseball bat from the Chicago White Sox, I have been saving it and could not think of a more deserving person to give it to.


  6. MB says:

    Fossil Rim is amazing and worth the trip. So are the water gardens – I don’t often drive to downtown ft worth but every time I do I go walk around it and I’m just in awe.

    Have you considered taking him to the Ft Worth Stockyards? It’s a fun day trip, they have a cattle drive down the main road with longhorn cattle several times a day, and there’s an old vintage train that you can ride. Plus a human maze. And I think there’s a petting zoo.

    If you need a canyon closer than the Grand Canyon there’s also Palo Duro Canyon in Canyon, TX. The second largest canyon in the united states plus they have a really neat play there in the summer. When I was his age my parents took us on a big summer trip to Palo Duro, Carlsbad, the Painted Desert, the petrified forest, and the Grand Canyon.

  7. David Snell says:

    I also read of Ben’s interest to Visit New Orleans or explore some Mardi Gras related things so outside of flying hopefully we can fulfill some of this request as I own http://www.cajuncrawfishcompany and have many local ties to some Cajun restaurants he could visit the kitchens of plus see how we put on a real crawfish boil if he likes! Beads and beads to give to him plus a few tours of a few local Cajun kitchens Ben may take interest in?? Flying and cooking I hope Ben and his family will be able to find some time to go fly and then go eat at any number of Cajun restaurants we work with in all of his exciting upcoming adventures!! Thanks contact info sent in previous post home to hear from your family soon! Sincerely, David Snell, Starlightflight/Cajun Crawfish Co.

  8. D says:

    Idea: You mentioned Ben would like to visit Nintendo (in Japan) but there is also a US branch of Nintendo located in Washington. And Sony Computer Entertainment (produces Playstation) has a HQ location in San Mateo, CA. But close to your area is the GameStop HQ; its located in Grapevine. Although games are not manufactured there, it might be really cool for Ben to get to see the facilities, the marketing department, and the warehouse. Just a thought!

    The story on WFAA this afternoon was very touching. Thank you and Ben for sharing your story with everyone.

  9. Dean Ferguson says:

    I saw your note about Ben wanting to see sand dunes. May I suggest the White Sands National Monument in southern New Mexico. It’s part of the White Sands Missile Range and within a fairly short drive of the Carlsbad Caverns (a cave?).

    Just a couple of suggestions from a native of Albuquerque. My thoughts and prayers are with all of you.


  10. Patti Maxwell Hines says:

    Looking forward to see you at the Albuquerque Balloon party … look for the big parrot head. <3

  11. Katie Groves says:

    I read Ben’s story and it truly touched my heart not only what the he and family are going through, but that you all are willing to take him to these places all over the world is which is truly incredible. It’s still so amazing to see people with so much love in their heart

  12. Alicia says:

    I have not seen it mentioned, but Ben can visit the Blue Bell ice cream factory right there in Brenham, Texas. They offer regular tours and are not too far from you! My family now lives outside of Philadelphia, PA and if you would like some help in seeing our part of the country, let me know!

  13. Adam says:

    Havasu Falls. It is beautiful and it takes care of the Grand canyon as well. There is a helicopter to the town of Supai and the falls are another 2 miles away.

  14. Leigh Ann says:

    That’s so neat that you are able to give Ben so many visual experiences. I asked my 12 year old what things she would like to see in that situation and she said she didn’t know. She doesn’t do well being put on the spot. However, I know that now and at Ben’s age she would love to see any kind of a rocket launch and the rain forest. Indonesia has the highest rain forest canopy in the world and she wants to go there but would happily settle for Hawaii. Costa Rica would be better than Hawaii but Hawaii is probably cheaper.

  15. Leigh Ann says:

    For his non-vision adventures. If you can get a copy of Erma Bombeck’s book “When You Look Like Your Passport Photo, it’s Time to go Home” (your library probably has it) she has a column about experiencing The Grand Canyon with a man who was blind. He describes to her all the things he is experiencing. It’s really beautiful and shows how he enjoys something that most people think of as strictly visual. We talk about going to see The Grand Canyon. He felt and heard it.

  16. Miriam Mason says:

    The Waco Mammoth site is awesome. We finally went a few years ago. Not too far and just amazing! There is a natural history and science museum in Waco too by the college.

  17. Rebecca says:

    I’d suggest Niagara Falls……day & night so beautiful. Be sure to ride the boat into the mist. And then go across to the Canadian side for another country to add to his resume.
    Also Northern Lights in Alaska…July 4th is a great time to be there…glaciers galore.

  18. Raymond E. Conley says:

    Now is a wonderful time to view Jupiter and it’s moons, Mars, and Saturn with it’s rings all at the same time! You will need an armature astronomer with a decent telescope and knows where to find these wonders of the universe, and the timing will be very important, Jupiter is setting fast.
    Fort Worth Astronomical Society
    Texas Astronomical Society of Dallas
    Olympus Mons at the University of Texas at Arlington
    North Texas Astronomical Society
    Lockheed Martin Astronomy Club

    Best Wishes

  19. Michael Martin says:

    I don’t know if this was said but the Google building in New York is absolutely amazing. I live in Keller (real close to Fort Worth) and there is a Freddy’s with fantastic custard, it’s not visual but it sure is tasty.

  20. Erica Kitchen says:

    I live in the New Orleans area and have some suggestions for the Mardi Gras wish…
    1) You can still come at Mardi Gras and attend one of the parades in one of the surrounding cities that is a little more family friendly.
    2) you can visit in the weeks preceding Mardi Gras. We have parades on the weekends leading up to the big party.
    3) Visit outside of the Mardi Gras season and enjoy the city. Mardi Gras World in downtown New Orleans makes many of the floats for the parades and does daily tours. You can get up close and see how they are made. They also give you king cake at the end of the tour. If he likes history, this would be a grat opportunity to also visit the national World War 2 museum.

  21. Kiel Pratt says:


    I heard about Ben’s wish list, and I’d like to send some art I created if you’re interested.

    I made some unique, intricate math-based art on the computer using some processes I came up with, and it was pretty time-consuming but the result is a couple of interesting, black-and-white, richly-textured images based on the “Golden Ratio”. You can see different features depending on how close or far away you are.

    I’d just need an email address that can accept a couple of attachments of less than 2MB each. Hope you’ll all get a kick out of it! And I could explain more about the math in the email I’d send too if you like.

    P.S. – I also have a son named Ben and I’ll be interested in home-schooling him in the future too. :) (He’s 6 months old now.)

    Best wishes,

  22. Landon Deatherage says:

    If he is as interested an animals as I am, he should really check out the San Diego Zoo sometime!

    Also, if he enjoys traveling, you should take him on board a cruise ship! Carnival Cruise Line is one of my favorites! There are cruise that can even take you all te way to Italy, France, Bahamas, Carribbean …etc.!

    Hope some of my suggestions were helpful!!!

  23. Nancy Fischer says:

    I am a friend of Doug Baum.
    Have you considered the Galveston Mardi Gras? It is family friendly, but parades and floats are close in ambiance to New Orleans. Closer and nicer.

  24. Becky Alexander says:

    I know you are in Alaska because you visited our store today. How about the Ice Museum in Fairbanks so you can feel how cold 40 below is? It would be a great thing to do. Hope you all are enjoying Pleasant Valley and Alaska.

  25. Sandy says:

    Dear Family, I saw the recent story of the exciting visit in Fairbanks (I live south of there). What a family adventure for all of you and I am so tickled Ben is experiencing so much! It will all be unforgettable. I recommend, as one person mention Oregon, to Soos Fish Hatchery — go in September when they are collecting eggs. This year they’ll collect over 5 million eggs from salmon. I recommend Mobile, Alabama, the home of Mardi gras. But for a smaller intimate time, Fairhope, AL (outside of Mobile) has quaint happenings and fun celebrations. While in the area, you could go to the battleship USS Alabama (they have war planes, sub and other interesting things to do!). The Space Center in Huntsville is a dream!!! The other big suggestion would be to take a cruise up the Inside Passage of Alaska if you would ever like to come back. The Inside Passage is totally different than the rest of the state! It offers something special — and it’s a garden of activities! I wish each of your family happy blessings and thank you for sharing how special Ben is!

  26. Zaina says:

    Hello there,
    Something I really miss after suddenly losing my eye sight is stargazing! How about witnessing a meteor shower? Its something I always wanted to see but didn’t have a chance to. Look up whens the next meteor shower and be sure to see it.
    The sight of the Milky Way is something I can never forget, away from city lights, take Ben stargazing.
    God bless you all, love from Bahrain.

  27. Liz says:

    Mardi Gras in Mobile, AL for a more traditional and family-friendly atmosphere!!!

  28. Beth Golden says:

    Hello Ben and family! I used to live in No. California, and Ben absolutely should see those redwoods! A good place to see them is Humboldt State Park – I’ve camped there many a time and it’s wonderful. If you get to see San Francisco, you may also want to take a side trip to West Marin County and see the Point Reyes National Seashore. There’s a lighthouse there (200 steps down – then back up!) that is pretty cool, and I’ve often seen gray whales from Feb-Apr.

    I mostly wanted to ask if there’s any sort of kickstarter or similar account set up for donations to this worthy cause? I (and maybe some other folks who’ve heard this story) would like to donate to help with the costs of travel.

  29. Kari says:

    What a wonderful thing you are doing for your family! There is a Christmas market in NYC in Central Park . NYC at Christmas is a wonderful time of year and I would suggest you take your family there to see the German market, the tree in Rockefeller Center and perhaps go Ice Skating there or in Central Park and see a play. You can easily head an hour and a half north of NYC to Hunter Mountain or Windham and ski there too.
    Best of luck to you,

  30. Trena says:

    Ben should visit Indianapolis for the Indianapolis 500 sometime. You only see the cars for a short time, but the noise and the vibration from the cars is amazing, so it could be a non-vision bucket list item.

    On a smaller sand dune scale, Lake Michigan has some. They’re not huge, obviously, but the lake is beautiful and it’s a quick trip to Chicago, which has some magnificent places, too!

    Your family makes my heart happy.

  31. Molly says:

    If you visit Mount Rushmore you should take the drive on Needles Highway and stop at Sylvan Lake. I also highly recommend The Badlands. Some of the most beautiful places I’ve ever seen!

  32. Karen says:

    Don’t let the frat-boy images of Mardi Gras scare you away from
    New Orleans! There are PLENTY of family and kid friendly Mardi Gras parades throughout the city. Just avoid Bourbon street and you will be fine :) Awesome city with so much culture…I vote YES!

  33. Caroline says:

    You could show him some great fun and do a snorkeling trip on a cruise! It’s a great relatively inexpensive family vacation and Carnival has some great kids features and some excellent destinations and ports of call. We love snorkeling in Roatan, Honduras! Our six year old went on his first snorkeling trip there a few weeks ago!

  34. Cindy says:

    I know Ben has already met an astronaut, but did you know that Space Camp in Huntsville, Alabama has a weeklong camp for Visually Impaired children? Just last week we hosted 200 children, aged 10-18, who studied space exploration and participated in Space Shuttle missions. Ben could be an astronaut, if even for just one week! Think about it and if Ben is interested, feel free to contact me!

  35. Patti says:

    There is a Christkindlmarket in Chicago. It starts this year on Nov. 21 and runs until Dec. 24. Still a ways from Texas but not as far as Germany.

  36. Eileen says:

    The European items on the list and the Globe theater indicate that he may some interest in medieval times. I would strongly recommend a day at a renaissance faire. It’s not terribly authentic, but people dress up, there is tons of music and entertainment, arts and crafts, usually demonstrations of things like glass blowing and blacksmithing, some animal exhibits, maybe some jousting, and lots of food.

  37. John Ferrando says:

    In Northern California there are 2 wonderful redwood groves….Ave of the Giants in Garberville and The giant Sequioas in Murphys California….If there is anything my wife and I could do to help you achieve your goals please let us know!!!!

  38. denise says:

    I would like to know where I can make a small donation to help a wish come true.

  39. Debbie says:

    I see that you have already visited San Antonio, but if New Orleans or Mobile are not feasible for the Mardi Gras experience, have you thought about coming here during Fiesta in April? We have the Battle of the Flowers parade on Friday with lots of floats, bands, horses, etc., and then the Fiesta Flambeau parade the next day (Saturday night) with the floats lit with lights. There’s lots of bead throwing just like at Mardi Gras. The events are family friendly, in fact the schools in the city even close on Friday so families can go to the parade. Perhaps if you contacted the organizers they could arrange for Ben to ride on one of the floats. The dates for the 2015 parades are April 24 and 25. In addition, if you didn’t visit Sea World while you were here it’s an awesome experience. Perhaps they would even arrange a special behind the scenes tour for Ben, where he could actually interact with and touch some marine animals as well as birds (ask for Leo if he’s still with the Education department, he’s full of knowledge and gives a wonderful tour).

  40. Taisha robichaux says:

    I can help with Mardi Gras (not in Nola). We are in Houma La which is the second largest Mardi Gras Please contact me asap

  41. Brian says:

    I see Ben wanted to try skiing? I suggest taking him to Mt. Washington Resort on Vancouver Island British Columbia Canada. It is extremely beautiful up there and they have excellent ski lessons for beginners. I live not far from there so I can help if you were interested.

  42. Sarah says:

    Hi Heidi and Ben! I just learned about Ben’s story on Facebook and am so touched by your family’s quest to help him see the world! I’ve been lucky enough to travel some of the world myself (I had my first birthday in London, England, I traveled to China when I was 6 with my family to adopt my baby sister- who’s now 11-, and I got to visit Paris, France and Ireland when I was 9- I’m 16 now :)) so I think it’s awesome that Ben has gotten some amazing experiences! I really hope you get to go to Paris- that’s one of my favorite places in the world. If you get to visit the Eiffel Tower, I really recommend going up at night. You can see the whole city lit up and it’s absolutely beautiful! Another place I love (and my parents love because it’s budget friendly ;)) is Yosemite National Park in California, which is the state I live in :). It’s a lot of fun to camp there, and there are tons of adventures you can embark on there! My personal favorite is the hike up to Yosemite falls. The hike is hard (brace yourself for 50+ switchbacks) but the view is worth it!! I hope Ben never stops dreaming, even after his eyesight leaves him. One of my good friends is blind, and although she wears sunglasses most of the time, if you saw her in action you’d never know she can’t see. She’s on a blind rowing team that competes in many places all over the world, she skiis black diamond runs in Yosemite and Mammouth Mountain, and she climbs trees better than anyone I’ve ever met!! She’s never let anything stop her from doing what she loves, and I hope Ben will do the same. I wish you all the best and I hope Ben is able to see all the places he wants to!!

    Sincerely, Sarah :)

  43. Sue says:

    City museum in St. Louis is such a fun place. Ben and all the kids would love it!

  44. Lauryn Morgan says:

    Hey Ben and family! :) I just saw your story, and I wanted to share some links to areas close to you. I’m from Shreveport, but I lived in New Orleans for nearly 10 years. I definitely agree with others who have said that Mardi Gras in New Orleans is amazingly kid-friendly (maybe just stay off Bourbon Street, but the outer areas are very family oriented .. kids are everywhere and families are having a good time together.) But, I have been living in Shreveport for a while now, and the Mardi Gras parades have definitely grown and they have become a great alternative if you can’t make it to the festival in New Orleans. I left the link to the Shreveport events you may want to check out … other than Mardi Gras there is also the Holiday Trail of Lights that is fun for the kids and the adults. Lots of lights, ice skating, a snow machine, fireworks, carnival rides, etc …

    So, just thought I would leave some ideas. Mardi Gras in Shreveport is a good alternative, but New Orleans really can be a family oriented festival, too. I love going to the holiday light festival in Natchitoches .. especially on opening night when they do fireworks over the water. And every kid (and 99.9% of adults) absolutely loves Celebration in the Oaks in New Orleans, but it’s also a great place to go for events during the non-holiday season.

    Shreveport events:

    Natchitoches Christmas Festival:

    New Orleans Celebration in the Oaks:

    Also, I think I saw he wanted to go to Italy to the Colosseum. I was there a couple of years ago and a piece of it broke off in my hand (trust me, im not strong enough to pull a piece of the Colosseum off, so please nobody blast me for “destroying” a historical place .. but rather than just drop it I brought it back with me, so that my 80 yo grandmother who has never been able to afford to travel could feel a piece of Italy) but back to my point – I would be happy to send it to Ben to have now. Of course I hope that he gets to see Italy for himself, but if not maybe the rock from the Colosseum will make him as happy as it did my grandma. Just let me know. And please send my best wishes to Ben and his siblings!


  45. Katie Gribbon says:

    I know.someone who was featured on cupcake wars maybe I could forward you the info and they can have a chat about the show? :) and if you are ever in Washington state he should add the space needle and great wolf. lodge in Olympia! I’d love to set up something to make this happen! If your interested hopefully my email pops up for you!

  46. Stacie Kirtley says:

    I highly recommend Yellowstone National Park. Animals you’ll see are bison, bears, moose, coyotes, & if you’re really lucky you’ll hear the wolves. There are geysers, hot springs, fountains, waterfalls, & rushing rivers. There are great day hikes, too. Something to reinforce the benefits of homeschooling, Yellowstone is a volcano; talk about a great outdoors classroom! There are ash deposits, basalt columns, and the above listed hot springs/geysers. If you’re able to go, go for at least a week. June is a great time to go because it isn’t yet full tourist season. You could check in with the tourist information center about ranger &/or geologist guided tours. Best wishes to Ben & family.

  47. Heidi says:

    Adding Yellowstone to our list! I remember seeing it as a child when I was around Ben’s age and it was fantastic! Thanks for the suggestion.

  48. Heidi says:

    We just saw the space needle on our way to Alaska! He thought it was “awesome” even though we didn’t have time to go up it.

  49. Heidi says:

    Denise, you are kind to offer! Instead of donating to Ben we’re encouraging people to consider supporting an organization that helps other children with visual impairments such as Light House for the Blind in Fort Worth.

    Or eSight.

    We appreciate your desire to help so much!

  50. Alex Esguerra says:

    Hello Heidi,

    My wife and I live in the San Francisco Area and would love to assist when you make your way out to the Golden Gate Bridge. For a twist, I’d personally like to offer my piloting services and let Ben not only see the famed bridge from the air, but also let him experience what it is like to fly an airplane. Of course, you and/or your husband are also invited to partake in his experience (please note, however, that the planes I fly are only four-seaters).


    Alex Esguerra

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>